Three Possible Health Dangers Of Long-Term Cell Phone Use
Natural News Network
Journalist: Reuben Chow
November 14, 2008
More and more people are owning and using cell phones
today. On top of that, people are using them from a younger age. While
the evidence of any health risks of cell phone use is far from
clear-cut, some studies have suggested that it can increase cancer
risk, cause behavioral problems in children as well as affect male
Health Danger 1 – Decreased Male Fertility
2007, research at the Cleveland Clinic found that men who used cell
phones for more than four hours per day had markedly poorer sperm
quality than their counterparts with lower cellphone usage.
Recently, the same team delved deeper. In a study published in Fertility & Sterility, they obtained sperm samples from 32 men and split them into 2 groups – control and test.
After being placed an inch from a 850-Mhz
which was in 'talk' mode, the sperm in the test group samples had
higher levels of harmful free radicals as well as lower levels of
protective antioxidants as compared to the control group, i.e. the
unexposed sperm. These resulted in a drop in the affected sperm's
function, motility as well as overall
There was, however, no significant difference in
DNA damage between the two groups.
is a small, laboratory-based study, and more research is definitely
still needed in this area. On top of that, sperm in men would actually
be further away from cellphones, and also be protected by a few layers
of human tissue. However, despite these factors, the findings of this
study still offer cause for concern, and men, especially those planning
to start a family, may want to keep their
cell phones as far away from their reproductive parts as possible.
Health Danger 2 - Increased Cancer Risk
Much of the research done on the link between using cell phones and any possible increase in
cancer risk has centered on
brain cancer, largely because it is the organ in closest proximity to the gadget. And the evidence so far has been mixed.
fair to say that the data aren't all in yet. There are a small number
of epidemiological studies that have suggested a possible increase in
But comparable studies in other populations haven't confirmed these
findings," said Dr David L McCormick, who is the director of the
Illinois Institute of Technology Research Institute in Chicago.
cell phones do emit radiation, it is apparently of the type called
non-ionizing radio frequency, and does not pose the dangers of ionizing
radiation - X-ray machines are one source of such damaging radiation.
According to Dr McCormick, the weak signals released by non-ionizing
radio frequencies do not cause damage to
DNA. For example, in animal studies, no evidence of DNA damage by low levels of radio frequency was found.
A number of studies have not shown up a link between
cell phone use
and increased cancer risk. However, one possible limitation of those
studies is their limited timeframe. After all, cancer, especially brain
cancer, takes years, even decades, to develop.
And, the thing is, there are studies which have shown increased cancer risk for frequent
cell phone users.
example, a piece of research led by Dr Siegal Sadetzki, an
epidemiologist at Gertner Institute, Chaim Sheba Medical Center,
Israel, found that heavy cell phone users had a 50% higher risk of
developing a parotid tumor. Such
arise in the salivary gland near the ears and the jaw, a position where
cellphones are typically held, and they can be malignant or benign.
findings of this study were important because it actually tracked the
cellphone users for more than a decade. Significantly, a link was also
found between tumor location and the side of the head whereby the users
usually placed their cellphones.
Adverse Health Impact of Cell Phones on Children
graver concern is the effect of cell phone use on children. Many of our
young ones are using cellphones today, sometimes for hours at a
stretch. Some households do not even have a landline anymore, and
cellphones are the main mode of teleconversation.
Earlier this year, market research and consulting firm Harris Interactive conducted a survey of more than 2,000 American
teens. It found that 79% of teens, or 17 million of them, use cellphones, compared with only 36% in 2005. That is more than double.
children are more susceptible to any potential dangers because their
nervous systems are still in development. It is thus possible that the
radio frequency emissions from the phones could cause other health
issues in other parts of the body – for example, the central nervous
system could be affected, thereby having a negative impact on learning
or behavior, or cancers could result in organs other than
the brain. These are points put forth by Dr Leeka Kheifets, a professor of epidemiology at UCLA's School of Public Health.
there is also the matter of head size. As described by Ronald
Herberman, director of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute,
while radiation from a cell phone only travels about 2 inches into the
brain of an adult, it goes beyond the center of a child's brain. That's
Health Danger 3 - Behavioral Problems in Children
And there are studies which reveal the negative impact of cell phones on the health of the young ones.
example, quite recently, Dr Kheifets and researchers in Denmark looked
at over 13,000 Danish children born in 1997 and 1998. The children were
part of a study called the Danish National Birth Cohort.
study discovered that those children who used cell phones and whose
mothers had used cellphones during their pregnancy had 80% higher
incidence of behavioral issues. These include emotional issues,
hyperactivity, inattention and having problems with their peers. Even
those children who themselves did not have cellphone exposure except
during their mothers' pregnancies had 54% higher incidence of such
These figures are indeed worrying.
Cancer in Children
When we combine the "cancer" and "children" of cell phone use, the result is even more frightening and shocking.
recent study conducted in Sweden revealed that children and teenagers
who use cellphones have five times the risk of getting brain cancer.
Professor Lennart Hardell, leader of the study, said that "people who
started mobile phone use before the age of 20" had more than five times
the incidence of glioma, which is cancer of the glial cells that
support the central nervous system.
In addition, these young
cell phone users have five times the risk of getting acoustic neuroma,
which is a disabling tumor of the auditory nerve that often causes
Further, the study revealed that cordless phones
increased cancer risk greatly too – the corresponding increase in risk
of glioma being four-fold instead of five.
The Worst May Be Yet To Come – More Research Is Needed
already have some indications of the dangers of cell phone use,
particularly in affecting children and teenagers as well as in raising
cancer risk. The alarming thing is, the worst is probably yet to come.
Vini Khurana, an Australian neurosurgeon, recently published a paper on
the Internet which stated that phone use "has far broader
public health ramifications than asbestos and smoking".
analyzed data from more than 100 different studies, he concluded that
most of them did not cover timeframes long enough to measure the
potential impact on brain cancer risk. In addition, he said that there
is a lack of research on children. Dr Khurana actually appeared on the
Larry King show, and his stance was described by Dr McCormick as being
But he has a point, and it is clear more
research is needed. This was echoed, to a certain extent, by Dr
Sadetzki, who said that research carried out on children as well as
long-term studies should provide better clarification on the possible
health risks of cellphone use.
many people are now using hands-free sets with their cell phones for
various health and safety reasons, it's important that we continue
studying this topic to gain a better understanding of the true impact
these devices are having on every part of the body," added Dr Edmund
Sabanegh, director of the Center for Male Fertility for the Glickman
Urological and Kidney Institute at the
What Next For Us?
is possible that short-term exposure to handphones is safe. "At this
point, it looks unlikely that cell phones are causing brain tumors,
particularly from short-term exposures," said Dr Kheifets.
problem is, our exposure is hardly "short-term" anymore. So many people
today are using cell phones. Not only that, we use them frequently and
for long periods. The young ones have started using cellphones at a
relatively tender age, too, where it is believed they will be more
susceptible to any possible health risks.
With cell phone
technology still rather new, and the overall lack of long-term research
on its dangers to health, it is surely better to be safe rather than
As Dr Sadetzki said, "I believe that the cellphone
technology has a lot of advantages and is here to stay. But we, as a
society, need to decide how to use it. […] I think that the
precautionary principle advising the use of simple measures to lower
exposure should be adopted and taken seriously."
Dr Khurana, for example, himself uses hands-free cell phone devices.
us take the necessary precautions and, in the meantime, hope that a
worldwide brain cancer epidemic is not waiting to blow up in the next
decade or two. That would truly be disastrous.