While study results have been mixed over the issue of cell phones and the radiation they emit and the dangers they present, some credible experts are taking another look at the ubiquitous devices.
A nurse at the brain injury unit of a physical rehabilitation hospital told CBS58 News that in the past year she has seen more brain tumor injuries in younger patients. A Milwaukee attorney told CBS58 that his now-deceased friend “developed brain cancer on the side of his head where he typically used the cell phone.”
“There is some data that suggests it might be a carcinogen. The bulk of the data says it’s almost certainly not,” Dr. John Moulder, professor of radiation oncology and director of radiation biology at the college, told CBS58 when questioned about such anecdotal information. Not everyone agrees.
The World Health Organization (WHHO) re-classified cell phone radiation as a “possible carcinogen similar to car exhaust” and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) just announced that it is analyzing external studies as part of its decision to adjust limits on the amount of radiation cell phones are permitted to emit, according to CBS58.
The WHO also called for more research on the devices, which have grown to 5 billion in use as of 2012. Also, the WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) decision to classify cell phone radiation as possibly carcinogenic to humans was based on a review of hundreds of human and animal studies, including the 2010 INTERPHONE study. In fact, INTERPHONE found that the heaviest cell phone users experienced a 40 percent increased risk for gliomas, the most common type of brain tumor.
In Europe and other foreign countries, a cell phone-cancer link is more widely accepted. Last year, Health Canada proposed guidelines for limited cell phone use and encouraged Canadians to reduce cell phone talk times and to communicate by text messaging or with a hands-free device whenever possible. Other countries have already implemented this tactic, and, in Russia, officials issued a recommendation that children under 18 completely avoid using the devices. The United Kingdom, Israel, Belgium, Germany, India, and Finland have urged their citizens to be very cautious when it comes to their children’s use of cell phones; France issued a number of recommendations that include selling devices that limit head exposure to EMF, banning ads promoting devices to children under the age of 14, banning cell phone use to children during teaching activities in certain locations and for certain grades, and indicating the SAR (specific absorption rate) clearly on the device, among others.
There is widespread agreement that it could take decades for cancer to appear, the CBS58 report indicated. “Most carcinogens take a long time to cause cancer, by a long time, meaning decades, not years,” Dr. Moulder told CBS58. This is significant because cell phones have not been broadly used for decades, especially by younger people, and United States scientists have had to rely on animal studies. Much of that literature was developed by scientists working for the cell phone industry.
What is known about cell phones is that the devices do produce energy that manifests in heat. Experts fear that this heat, which can be experienced when the device is held to the ear, changes brain cell activity, a point of concern raised in some studies.
Among the recommendations made regarding cell phone use are that either an ear piece or speaker phone capability be used and if the phone must be directly used, to hold it away from the head, especially before the call connects; to text, not call; avoid using the phone when there is a weak signal; never carry a cell phone in a pocket or wear the device on a belt loop; and never give a cell phone to young children, said CBS58