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Cell Phone Use Can Double Your Risk of Brain Cancer

October 22, 2010 | 78,854 views

cellphoneAn epidemiologist and toxicologist who is an expert in environmental health has found evidence linking cell phone usage to an increased rate of certain kinds of brain tumors in young people who were heavy cell phone users.

In her book, Disconnect, Dr. Devra Davis talks about how she found evidence of studies, some decades old, showing that the radio-frequency radiation used by cell phones could have biological effects -- enough to damage DNA and potentially contribute to brain tumors.

As reported by Time, Davis also found that many of the studies debunking a link between cell phone usage and adverse events were mostly funded by the industry. According to Time:

"She found that other countries—like France and Israel—had already acted, discouraging the use of cell phones by children and even putting warning signs on handsets. …

"This is about the most important and unrecognized public health issues of our time," says Davis. "We could avert a global catastrophe if we act."

"Davis also said that industry resistance would make regulation "harder and harder," but that the good news is "simply using a wired headset should significantly cut down on radiation exposure to the brain, although Davis recommends that children—whose thinner skulls can absorb higher levels of radiation—avoid using phones altogether."


Dr. Mercola's Comments:

If you are in the habit of using a cell phone on a regular basis, or allow your kids to do so, please take this warning to heart: the phone could be increasing your risk of brain cancer, which may not show up for 10-20 years, or more.

It is easy to brush off the emerging and established evidence showing cell phone dangers because the devices are so convenient. I'm the first to acknowledge that the technology behind cell phones has changed the way many conduct business and interact with their friends and family on a daily basis.

But I'm also convinced, and suspect you'll agree, that these benefits are in no way worth it if they end up sacrificing your health to a brain tumor.

The research on this is not sketchy or preliminary … it is solid and ever increasing, and I urge you to take notice now, before it's too late.

The Research is Loud and Clear … Cell Phones are Dangerous

Devra Davis, PhD, professor, Department of Epidemiology at the Graduate School of Public Health, University of Pittsburgh has written a new book -- Disconnect -- in which she exposes research showing that radiation from cell phones has been linked to:

  • DNA damage
  • Memory loss
  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Cancer
  • Break down of your brain's defenses
  • Reduced sperm count

The 2009 special EMF issue of the Journal of Pathophysiology also contains over a dozen different studies on the health effects of electromagnetic fields and wireless technology.

In addition, a review of 11 long-term epidemiologic studies published in the journal Surgical Neurology revealed that using a cell phone for 10 or more years approximately doubles the risk of being diagnosed with a brain tumor on the same side of the head where the cell phone is typically held.

This is really only the tip of the iceberg. If you want to delve into the "meat" of the issue even further, look into the results of the Interphone study. It cost more than $30 million (funded in part by the mobile phone industry) to carry out, and involved nearly 50 scientists from 13 countries, along with more than 14,000 people.

It was meant to finally give definitive evidence on the safety, or lack thereof, of cell phones, but now that the data has finally been released (years after its scheduled completion date), there are more questions than answers, as the study is seriously flawed.

But one disturbing finding that can be gleaned from the Interphone data is that "heavy users" of cell phones have an approximately doubled risk of glioma, a life threatening and often-fatal brain tumor, after 10 years of cell phone use.

Now here's the important part: their definition of a "heavy" user was someone who used a cell phone about two hours … a month!

What this means is that if you use your cell phone for two hours a month or more, you may be doubling your risk of a potentially fatal brain tumor. Use your cell phone significantly more than that, and your risk is likely much, much higher.

An Industry of Deception

Even more revealing in Davis' new book is her assessment of the "dark side" of the cell phone industry, and their attempts to keep cell phone dangers quiet. As TIME magazine reported:

"As Davis argues in some of the best passages of Disconnect, it could be that we haven't established the dangers of cell phone use because we haven't asked the right questions—and that might be on purpose.

"If you don't want to know the answer," Davis says, "don't ask the question." Much of the research into the biological effects of cell phone radiation has been underwritten by the... cell phone industry, and you don't have to be a raging paranoiac to wonder whether that money might have an impact on the conclusions of those thousands of studies."

It's worth remembering that the telecommunication industry is even BIGGER than Big Pharma, and they have far more influence than the drug companies. They're also mirroring many of the same tactics as the tobacco industry to pedal their wares.

This includes attempting to discredit researchers who publish unfavorable cell phone studies. TIME reported:

"Davis shows that independent studies on cell phone radiation found dangers at more than twice the rate of industry-funded studies—though because the cell phone industry is the source of much of the funding of cell phone studies, there are far more of the latter.

… Time and again, she [Davis] shows the way that industry has been able to twist science just enough to stave off the possibility of any regulation—and finds that researchers are afraid of challenging the status quo, lest they find themselves suddenly out of a job, denied the lifeblood of research money.

Most of the few brave researchers who challenge the prevailing wisdom on cell phone radiation—like the electrical engineer Om Gandhi or the bioengineer Henry Lai—are senior scientists, secure in their positions and their tenure. But a young researcher just starting out is far more vulnerable to industry pressure. Science isn't as pristine as we imagine it."

Many Warnings Have Already Been Issued: Have You Heard Them?

You may be wondering why, if there is so much data showing the risks of cell phone use, no warnings are being made. Well, there actually are warnings out there, but they are not being widely publicized.

Several countries, including Finland, Israel and France, have already issued guidelines for safer cell phone use. The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC), while distancing itself from any claims that cell phones cause health problems, also recently released steps you can take to reduce your exposure to radiofrequency energy from cell phones.

Witnesses before a Senate Committee also testified this year about research into cell phone use and its potential impact on human health, as well as the potential side effects such as brain and salivary gland tumors.

In San Francisco, meanwhile, warning labels and radiation emission numbers will be required for every cell phone -- in a font at least as big as the printed price. In addition to the city being required to purchase cell phones emitting the lowest possible radiation, schools will be required to educate students and parents about cell phone radiation.

Andrea Boland, the Maine State Representative, also wanted warnings especially for children and pregnant women to keep cellular devices away from their head and body, but unfortunately a Maine legislative committee rejected her proposal, citing "inconclusive studies" and a concern about "raising fear in people."

In 2008, Dr. Ronald B. Herberman, director of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, also issued a warning to his faculty and staff urging them to limit cell phone use because of the possible risk of cancer. So there are plenty of warnings out there … the cell phone industry has just done a fairly good job at making sure they're not widely heard.

Practical Tips for Protection

The damage from cell phone exposure will take many years to surface and there are rarely any initial symptoms, just like smoking and lung cancer. So it's important to take action now, before any health symptoms arise.

At this point, you cannot completely avoid wireless radiation from all sources since they're so pervasive (WI-FI, cell phone towers, etc.), but getting rid of your cell phone altogether can help protect you.

If you don't want to take that step, you can still minimize your exposure and reduce your risks by following these commonsense guidelines:

  • Children Should Always Avoid Using Cell Phones: Barring a life-threatening emergency, children should not use a cell phone, or a wireless device of any type. Children are far more vulnerable to cell phone radiation than adults, because of their thinner skull bones and other factors.
  • Reduce Your Cell Phone Use: Turn your cell phone off more often. Reserve it for emergencies or important matters.
  • Use a Land Line at Home and at Work: Although more and more people are switching to using cell phones as their exclusive phone contact, it is a dangerous trend and you can choose to opt out of the madness.
  • Reduce or Eliminate Your Use of Other Wireless Devices: You would be wise to cut down your use of these devices. Just as with cell phones, it is important to ask yourself whether or not you really need to use them every single time. Even portable home phones, including the older kind that operate at 900 MHz, can be a problem. The lesson from the field is that all DECT portable phones are a problem.

    If you do not know if you have a DECT phone (as many are not labeled as such), the ONLY way to know for sure is to measure. You can learn about measuring instrumentation at www.emfsafetystore.com.

    For "hands free" calls at home, I recommend getting the old-fashioned speaker phone (either attached to the phone or separate) or using SKYPE on your computer on speaker mode, which is terrific.

  • Use Your Cell Phone Only Where Reception is Good: The weaker the reception, the more power your phone must use to transmit, and the more power it uses, the more radiation it emits, and the deeper the dangerous radio waves penetrate into your body. Ideally, you should only use your phone with full bars and good reception.

    Also seek to avoid carrying your phone on your body as that merely maximizes any potential exposure. Ideally put it in your purse or carrying bag.

  • Turn Your Cell Phone Off When Not in Use: As long as your cell phone is on, it emits radiation intermittently, even when you are not actually making a call.
  • Keep Your Cell Phone Away From Your Body When it is On: The most dangerous place to be, in terms of radiation exposure, is near the emitting antenna. You do not want any part of your body near this area and proximity is everything. The closer the phone is to your body, the worse the exposure -- with the exposure falling off dramatically with distance. Thus, using the speaker mode, the farther you can keep the phone away from your body and still hear the call, the better.
  • Use Safer Headset Technology: Wired headsets will certainly allow you to keep the cell phone farther away from your body. However, if a wired headset is not well-shielded -- and most of them are not -- the wire itself acts as an antenna attracting ambient radio waves and transmitting radiation directly to your brain and your body, for example over your heart.

    Make sure that the wire used to transmit the signal to your ear is shielded.

    The best kind of headset to use is a combination shielded wire and air-tube headset. These operate like a stethoscope, transmitting the information to your head as an actual sound wave; although there are wires that still must be shielded, there is no wire that goes all the way up to your head.

[+] Sources and References

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