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Is Your Cell Phone Frying Your Brain?
Journalist: Jesse Berst
August 25, 2000

You remember that old anti-drug campaign featuring the egg. "This is your brain." Then the egg was fried in a pan: "This is your brain on drugs."

Those commercials might be even more relevant today ... for cell phones.

As cell phones become ubiquitous, their safety is coming into question. I'll tell you why some scientists are sounding the alarm and what you can do if you are concerned.

The U.S. alone has more than 100 million wireless subscribers. By 2005, there will be an estimated 1.26 billion worldwide. Cell phones work by emitting radio frequency radiation (RF R) that transmits through the antenna into your phone.

The phone that is right next to your brain.

This radiation has some in the scientific community concerned.

Can cell-phone use cause cancer?

The answer to that question is an unequivocal ... no one knows. A Florida man launched the debate in 1993 when he claimed his wife got brain cancer from her cell phone.

The wireless industry vehemently denies any health risks. But then we've heard similar denial before from other big companies. Remember cigarettes? Remember Firestone?

There have been some 200 studies on the safety of cell phones. And they all seem to conflict. Scientific American recently discussed a number of the studies and concluded that scientists still aren't sure as to the safety of cell phones.

The catch is that these are short-term studies. Cell phones have only been in the mainstream for a few years. No one is sure of the long-term effects.

Since there is no hard evidence yet, common sense is the best policy for now. Here's what the experts say:

Limit time spent on your cell phone.

Discourage children from using them. Studies show a cell phone's electromagnetic field penetrates deeper into a child's head.

Don't use a cell phone if the signal is weak. The phone shoots out more radiation to compensate for a poor signal.

Avoid talking on the phone while driving. (This has more to do with traffic safety than radiation.)

Get an old-fashioned cell phone for your car, so the antennae is outside the vehicle.

Some people have turned to headphones to reduce the radiation to their heads. But one study from England's Consumer Association said that some hands-free headsets actually deliver triple the radiation to your brain than the phone itself..

As cell phones become more sophisticated and integral to our lives, it's important to follow these debates. To ask these questions now, before it is too late.

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