Keep phone away from ear to reduce cancer risk
An overview of the studies of long-term mobile phone use by Indian scientists has come to the most depressing conclusions yet on the link between our favourite bit of kit and cancer.
In their article Risk of Brain Tumors From Wireless Phone Use in the snappily named Journal of Computer Assisted Tomography, Rash Bihari Dubey and his team call on mobile phone manufacturers to remove the need for users to place the phone to their ear and replace it with a safe headset built into the phone.
They compare the generally positive outcomes of research funded by the telephone industry with the less positive findings of independent research and point out that very few studies look at long-term use. However, tumours in the head are generally slow-growing. They say that there are essentially only two long-term studies - an industry funded one (the interphone study) and a Swedish one (led by Dr Hardell).
Double the risk
They write: 'The Swedish team studies, independent of industry funding, have reported a link of brain tumor risk from cell phone use and cordless phone use. The results indicate that using a cell phone for 10 years approximately doubles the risk of having a diagnosis of a brain tumor on the same (ipsilateral) side of the head as that preferred for cell phone use.'
Concluding that 'the current standard of exposure to microwave during mobile phone use is not safe for long-term exposure and needs to be revised', the authors say there is 'a simple action' that can reduce the absorbed cell phone radiation by 'several orders of magnitude' (this is science speak for 'a lot').
They write: 'Cell phone radiation decreases as the square of the distance from the phone. As a result, even small changes in distance have a dramatic effect. With the use of a headset connected, the cell phone is not held directly against the ear, and thus, the absorbed cell phone radiation could be reduced by several orders of magnitude. An appropriate precautionary principle action would be to mandate all cell phone manufacturers to remove the existing cell phone speaker that is placed to the ear and replace it with a headset directly connected to the cell phone.' But they suggest an air tube headset (not a regular wired headset) as, they say, the 'regular wired headset has been found to intensify radiation into the ear canal.' Their full list of mobile phone safety tips is here.
Reduced sperm count
Worryingly for men, Dubey and his team also cite a study published in Fertility and Sterility showing a 59% decline in sperm count in men who used cell phones for 4 hours a day or more as compared with those who did not use cell phones at all.
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Page created on March 17th, 2011
Page updated on March 18th, 2011