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Mobile Phones: The Health Dangers

Mobile Phones: The Health DangersAre mobile phones the ‘new’ cigarettes?

What are the parallels?

Well, the introduction of both cigarettes and mobile phones were embraced enthusiastically by the public and especially young people. And both industries are controlled by massive multinational organisations generating vast profits and taxes for the national governments that largely leave the industries to regulate themselves. As with cigarettes, the health dangers associated with mobile phones may also take decades to become incontrovertibly evident.

 

Understanding mobile technologies

Mobile technologies such as mobile phones, personal data assistants and laptops are essentially sophisticated two-way radios that both receive and transmit radio waves to and from base stations or masts. They use the radio frequencies that form part of the electromagnetic spectrum and that exist beyond ultraviolet light and are classed as extremely low frequency radiation (ELF).

The electromagnetic spectrum is essentially a spectrum of particles travelling at different speeds. With ionising radiation the particles are travelling fast enough to be able to knock electrons out of their orbits creating charged atoms (ions) and causing damage to cell structures such as DNA. Mobile technologies such as mobile phones use a low-intensity form of non-ionising radiation that has insufficient energy to create ions, but that is known to cause localised tissue heating.

The potential health dangers of exposure to mobile phone radiation is measured in watts per unit of body weight as a Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) value. However, this is a complex issue because mobile phones have been designed to operate at minimum power levels so as to conserve energy. This means that, counter-intuitively, the stronger the signal and the closer the phone to the base station, the lower the power output of the mobile phone.

 

What are the health dangers of mobile phones?

Whilst many studies have either concluded that there was no cause for concern or offered alternative explanations for apparent findings of the health dangers associated with mobile phones and other mobile technologies, most end by citing the precautionary principle and counselling caution until further data is available. Some of the studies that have raised concerns about the health dangers posed by mobile phones focus upon the areas outlined below.

 

Brain damage/tumours and mobile phone use

One of the primary health concerns associated with mobile phone use is potential damage sustained through heating of the ear and surrounding brain. Tissues damaged by heating will normally be dealt with by the immune system, however, there may be thresholds beyond which the body cannot keep pace with the damage caused by the use of a mobile phone. This may depend upon factors such as the duration and proximity of exposure to the radiation, the power level and the efficiency of the particular individual’s immune system. Potential health problems with mobile phone use include: insomnia, headaches, memory loss, concentration and attention deficits, tumours of the brain or ear and Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases.

Another possible mechanism is that exposure to extremely low frequency ELF) mobile phone radiation is known to decrease the production of the hormone, melatonin. This is significant because melatonin both governs the sleep/wake cycles and acts as a potent antioxidant within the brain and central nervous system.

Mobile phone safety study findings:

  • A 2004 European Union study into the potential health dangers of mobile phones found that the radio frequencies employed could cause genetic damage potentially leading to cancer.

  • A Lund University, Sweden study conducted on rats and published in 2003 found evidence of destruction in the areas of the brain associated with memory, movement and learning on exposure to mobile phone radiation. The researchers posited that this could conceivably lead to the early onset of neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's disease in humans.

  • The Interphone study was a decade-long study into the potential health dangers of mobile phones funded by the industry which showed an increased risk of the most common brain tumour, glioma, was associated with greater mobile phone use.

  • A US-Korean mobile phone safety study also found a 25% increase in the incidence of brain tumours and an Australian study found that the risks of brain tumours doubled after 10 years of mobile phone use.

  • The risks of mobile phone use may be cumulative and a recent study conducted for France Telecom concluded that the key health dangers appear to relate to lifetime exposure with a 3% increase in brain tumour incidence per year of mobile phone use.

  • There has also recently been a notable increase in cancers in very young infants and it has been suggested that this may be due to increased exposure to extremely low frequency (ELF) radiation both in the womb and from devices such as baby monitors.

 

Other cancers associated with mobile phones

Exposure to electromagnetic radiation has been linked with an increased incidence of breast cancer (in both sexes) and other cancers including acute lymphocytic leukaemia.

 

Other health problems associated with mobile phones

Laboratory studies into the health hazards of mobile phones have shown that extremely low radiation (ELF) fields may interfere with protein synthesis and other possible problems include reproductive and immune dysfunctions and becoming hypersensitive to electromagnetic radiation.

Part of the problem with determining the health dangers posed by mobile phones and other wireless technologies is that they have only been in use for a short time and a study conducted in the 1990s showed that the adverse health effects of mobile phone use took at least a decade to became apparent. The other issue is that the number of people with mobile phones has expanded exponentially along with the amount of time individual users spend on their phones, so that both individual and societal exposures to the radiation associated with these mobile technologies are increasing dramatically. We also know from painful past experience that the health dangers posed by radioactivity did not, for example, become apparent for many decades after the discovery and deployment of devices employing ionising radiation such as X-ray machines in children's shoe shops.

 

Are mobile phones safe for children?

There is particular concern about the health dangers posed by mobile phone use in children for the following reasons:

  • Children represent nearly one third of all mobile phone users

  • The average teen spends several hours a day on their mobile phone

  • Children absorb twice as much radiation as adults from using their mobile phones because their ears and skulls are both smaller and thinner

  • Children have more tissue actively dividing because they are growing and this may make them more vulnerable to the health hazards posed by mobile phones

  • Juvenile brain tissue is more conductive of mobile phone radiation than that of an adult

  • The health risks may be cumulative so that the earlier an individual starts using a mobile phone, the greater the lifetime risk. In a Swedish study conducted by Professor L Hardell, mobile phone use of more than 1 hour a day before the age of 20 years of age increased the subsequent incidence of brain cancer five-fold.

For these reasons Russia has recently been advised to ban the use of mobile phones under the age of 18 years of age and France has banned advertising of mobile phones aimed at those under 14 years of age.

 

How can I reduce my exposure to mobile phone radiation?

Advice to mobile phone users includes:

  • Turn your mobile phone off as much as possible - leaving the answer phone message on.

  • Do not leave your mobile phone switched on next to your bed or use it as an alarm clock.

  • Keep mobile phone conversations short.

  • Use a corded landline telephone whenever possible and for longer conversations.

  • Use the speaker on your mobile phone whenever possible.

  • Use a mobile phone hands-free headset if possible as this has been shown to reduce radiation exposure by half (UK Independent Government report, 2000).

  • Send a text instead of talking on your mobile phone.

  • Take care not to cover the antennae hidden within your mobile phone with your hand when in use.

  • Keep your mobile phone as far as possible from your head.

  • Mobile phones emit more radiation when the signal strength is low, so find the best signal available when making a call. This one factor alone can account for a thousand-fold difference in radiation exposure!

  • Any mobile phone will also emit more radiation in a moving vehicle as it searches for a signal, so remain stationary whilst making calls if possible.

  • Radiation exposure from your mobile phone will also be greater indoors compared to outdoors and will be reduced by moving closer to a window when making a call.

  • Do not put your mobile phone in pockets or bags next to vulnerable organs such as the testicles or breasts.

  • Do not always keep your mobile phone in the same pocket. Use different pockets to limit radiation exposure to any one particular body part over time.

  • Limit mobile phone usage as much as possible if you are pregnant.

  • The newer mobile phone technologies can triple the health dangers posed as they use a stronger signal, so don’t update your phone unless absolutely necessary.

  • Use a low specific absorption rate (SAR) value/low radiation mobile phone (see below).

 

Mobile phone SAR values

SAR values can be found by contacting the mobile phone manufacturer, conducting a web search by manufacturer and model or by searching on the database run by the trade association of handset manufacturers at Mobile Manufacturers Forum. However, the SAR values listed are maximum values and the mobile phone may operate at much lower levels depending upon the distance from the mast, whether the phone is being used indoors or outdoors, how close it is held to the ear and whether the user is moving or not. Also, a low SAR value does not necessarily mean that the mobile phone is safer because phones with low SAR values may operate in practice at higher emissions than those with high SAR values.

Whilst many mobile phone manufacturers claim that their products stay within current health danger guidelines, the European Environmental Agency (EEA) recently also called for immediate action to reduce exposure to radiation after a review revealed that mobile phone safety limits may be “thousands of times too lenient”. Finally, existing public exposure standards assume that the main health danger posed is caused by heating of the tissues, and this may not be the main or only mechanism by which damage can be caused.

 

Further resources

Click the relevant link to view research on the interaction between dental amalgam fillings and electromagnetic radiation and/or the health effects of electromagnetic radiation.

You may also wish to read the article and watch the accompanying videos about microwave radiation leakage from ovens available by clicking the link.

 

The health dangers of mobile phones: Article summary

This article examines the health dangers of using a mobile phone and other mobile technologies. It looks at the extremely low frequency (ELF) radiation employed by mobile phones and the potential health dangers including the increased incidence of tumours and the health dangers posed to children. Ways to reduce your exposure to mobile phone radiation and the specific absorption rate (SAR) values of mobile phones are outlined.

From :

http://www.thenaturalrecoveryplan.com/articles/health-danger-mobile-phones.html

 

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