The 411 on Cancer and Cell Phones
By Sheryl Kraft
It seems as if the debate over the risks of cell phones has been growing along with cell phone usage. Back in 2000, there were 110 million cell phone users; in 2009, more than 285 million people in the United States subscribed to cell phone service, according to the Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association. I know cell phones keep people connected, but at the risk of sounding like the baby boomer that I am, it amazes me when I think back to the days when talking on the phone meant sitting still and being connected—literally—by a cord.
It's no secret that because of the radio-frequency energy, a form of radiation that cell phones emit, they've been under both scrutiny and study for years to see their effects, if any, on our bodies—specifically our brains and other tissues in our heads. Researchers are concerned that the energy emitted from the phones can cause brain tumors, both malignant and benign types. It's also thought that your salivary glands might be exposed to this RF energy.
It's too exhaustive and confusing to keep track of each study, but over the years the conclusions have ranged from there being no link between cell phone use and brain cancers to a slightly increased risk of a tumor on the same side of the head as the reported phone use among people who had used the phone for 10 years or more. And to make things even more complicated and confusing, cell phone subscriptions do not necessarily relate to cell phone usage (as a listed subscriber may not be the primary user of the phone), and subscriptions do not indicate duration or frequency of use.
And just when you think cell phones are off the hook (sorry, I couldn't resist) comes another story.
The latest: Cell phones may cause certain types of brain cancer, says a panel of experts reporting to the World Health Organization. After reviewing dozens of studies, the group of 31 scientists from 14 countries declared cell phones to be "possibly carcinogenic to humans." They've been placed in the same category as the pesticide DDT and the gasoline exhaust coming from car engines.
Although it's based on "limited evidence," as a member of the wireless industry's trade group said, researchers, taking a different stance, have found a very small increase, hence a possible connection.
In the meantime, I'm going to continue to use—and up my stock—of corded headsets, just in case there's a run on them. I think there should be, don't you?
This Matters: Limiting your cell phone use is not such a bad idea, and it's not just for this reason. is a huge problem. When someone is driving erratically, my mind no longer instantly thinks that they must have had one too many, but instead thinks, "They must be on their cell phone." And nine times out of 10, I'm right.
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