Posted by EarthCalm Staff- Updated on 4/6/2017 to
There’s No Longer Room for Debate
Cell phone health risks are the current subject of heated controversy, both in science and in politics. On one hand, many top agencies in the US, including the FDA, the American Cancer Society, and the National Health Industry, have ruled cell phones as safe until more “conclusive” evidence is found. Scientists world-wide have been astounded by this position, especially in the face of decades worth of notable science, which has otherwise proven that there is cause for concern.
Cell Phone Radiation Danger Exposed
Two books have recently hit the stands, exposing the serious nature of cell phone radiation danger. In Zapped: Why Your Cell Phone Shouldn’t be Your Alarm Clock, by Ann Louise Gittleman, we learn that we are surrounded by hazardous electronic pollution day and night, at a rate that is 100 million times greater than what our grandparents faced. Dr. Gittleman identifies the specific health concerns posed by various forms of electronic pollution, including those caused by cell phone radiation danger. [View Book]
In Disconnect: The Truth about Cell Phone Radiation, Dr. Devra Davis presents an explosive exposé of how cell phone radiation damages brain cells, especially in children. Davis, an environmental health scientist formerly with the National Academy of Scientists, claims she was once a skeptic herself, but now believes that cell phone radiation is a “national emergency.” In chilling detail, she describes the industry’s efforts to suppress research:
“Many of those engaged in efforts to study cell phone radiation have…made up their minds in advance. The fact that ready money has been there to support those who cast doubt on the dangers of radio-frequency radiation certainly plays some role in the perpetuation of their views, as it did with tobacco, asbestos, and hormone replacement therapy.” [View Book]
What is Cell Phone Radiation?
Cell phone radiation is a particularly hazardous type of electromagnetic field, or EMF. EMFs emanate from the electrical grid in all buildings, from all electrical appliances, as well as from cell phones and all other wireless devices. They also come from cell towers and power lines. In other words, in today’s world, they surround us. Indeed, we are virtually living in a sea of electromagnetic smog.
Until recently, the number of people becoming ill due to EMF exposure was relatively small. The number was large enough, however, to warrant serious studies on the subject. In 2007, the Biointiative Report was published, in which findings showed important correlations between EMFs and:
• Cardiovascular Disease
• Learning impairment
• Anxiety and depression
• Breast Cancer.
The Wireless Revolution and Cell Phone Health Risks
With the wireless revolution, research in the last decade has made correlations between wireless EMFs - also known as microwave radiation - and disturbing activities in the body, such as
• Increased permeability in the blood-brain barrier
• Breaks in the DNA
• Increased speed in cell division
• Birth defects.
These conditions are especially notable because of their relationship to the development of cancer. DNA damage, in particular, is serious. Cindy Sage, an environmental consultant in Santa Barbara, CA, who has studied radiation for 28 years, notes that:
“The problem is RF [radiation found in cell phones] can transfer energy waves into your body and disrupt its normal functioning. Here’s why that’s crucial: Overwhelming evidence shows that RF can cause DNA damage, and DNA damage is a necessary precursor to cancer.”
A study conducted by W.R. Adey, et al in 2000, found that rats (studied because their brain is similar to that of a human) exposed to just two hours of microwave radiation, had broken strands of DNA, which is the type of damage known to occur in cancer. They also had brain cell alterations, memory lapses, and fluids leaking from their brains into their blood, indicating a break of the blood-brain barrier. [View]
Cell Phones: Cancer Producing?
Do cell phones cause cancer? Most of the research on the effects of microwave radiation involving the correlation between cell phones and cancer have come up with either “yes” or “probably”. Several studies, including an exhaustive review released in 2010 by the World Health Organization’s cancer-research agency, found that people who have used cell phones for half an hour a day for more than a decade have about twice the risk of Glioma, a rare kind of brain tumor, on the side of their head where they hold the phone. Glioma is usually fatal. This disease is being found in people after just 10 years of relatively light usage.
The Swedish National Institute for Working Life conducted a study in 2006 which found that people using a cell phone for 2000 hours had a 240% greater risk for malignant brain tumors on the side of the head the phone was used.
One difficulty in studying cell phone health risks, is the very long latency period before cancer shows up in the body. It can often take up to 40 years before it begins to appear. We know this because of the cancer that began showing in the victims of Hiroshima 40 years afterward. This same time lag has held true for victims of asbestos and many of those smoking tobacco.
However, a number of people who have used cell phones heavily for just 10 years are already developing cancer. According to Devra Davis: “We are already seeing doubled risk of brain cancer in people who have used cell phones heavily for ten years. Most people haven’t used cell phones heavily for ten years yet.”
Children and Cell Phone Health Risks
It is estimated that up to 31 million kids are on cell phones daily, close to four hours a day. This is especially worrisome, as children absorb 50% more electromagnetic pollution than adults do. This is because their skulls are thinner and smaller, so EMFs penetrate much more deeply into their brains. Also their brains are more conducive due to the higher water and ion concentration. This gets particularly frightening when we see mobile phone companies marketing phones for preschoolers.
Brain Tumors: Brain cancer has now surpassed leukemia as the number one cancer killing children. Many scientists believe this is directly linked to the exponential increases in cell phone use and other wireless devices.
Autism: The incidence of autism in the United States is currently 1 in 150 children, according to published CDC reports. This is an increase from the end of the 1970s, when the ratio of autism in our society was 1 in 10,000, before cell phones and other wireless technologies were introduced into the environment. Tamara Mariea, founder of Internal Balance (TM), Inc., is releasing findings from more than five years of research on clients with autism, that point to cell phone radiation stress as one of the potentially major causes of the explosion of autistic cases in the past two decades.
Behavioral Problems: Researchers are also finding a correlation between cell phone usage and behavioral problems in children. The cell phones are either those used by the children themselves or by their mothers while pregnant. A survey in 2008, which included more than 13,000 children, found that those whose mothers used cell phones during pregnancy were more likely to have behavioral problems, like hyperactivity and trouble controlling emotions.
Many European countries are showing concern. France has already banned all wireless technology in certain schools and many public places, and is considering banning the sale of cell phones to children under 12. UK Chief Medical Officers advise, as a precaution, that children and young people under 16 should be encouraged to use mobile phones for essential purposes only and to keep calls short. The Toronto Board of Health recommends that children under 8 use cell phones only in emergencies and that teens limit calls to under 10 minutes.
Sperm Count: A Cell Phone Health Risk?
According to powerwatch.com, research around the world suggests that keeping a switched-on mobile phone in a pants pocket can have a drastic effect on sperm.
“All the research shows the same thing: Of young men trying to become fathers, those who use mobile phones at least 4 hours/day have about one-half the sperm count of others. Sperm exposed to mobile phone radiation in the lab are sicker, thinner and less capable of swimming.”
The Interphone Study on Cell Phone Radiation Dangers
The largest study on cell phone radiation danger to date, the Interphone Study, was funded by the telecom industry and involved 13 countries. Its results were released in May 2010, spawning a quagmire of controversy. Many groups, including the National Cancer Institute and the telecom industry, read the results of the study as a green light for cell phone users. Many other independent scientists, however, point out numerous flaws in the study, such as:
• Exclusion of many types of brain tumors
• Exclusion of people who had died or were too ill to be interviewed
• Exclusion of children and young adults (who are more vulnerable)
Kerry Crofton, PhD., health researcher and medical writer, further points out that because the study was largely based on lower cell phone usage in the 90s, the research has little bearing on today’s world in which 83% of 18-29 year olds are “wired” all the time and sleep with their cell phones next to their beds.
In addition, it’s been noted that scientists have a hard time keeping up with the rapid changes in the devices. The Interphone Study didn’t take third generation technology into account, even though that’s what many customers across the globe now use.
Cell Phone Safety Tests – SAR Standards
There’s much controversy around the cell phone safety tests on which the FCC has based their ruling about cell phone safety. Experts have pointed out that the FCC regulations are largely based on what is called “specific absorption rate” or SAR levels, which is the rate at which our bodies absorb radiation.
Because of the regulations, cell phone manufacturers now have to indicate the SAR level of their products on the package, so consumers can have the choice to purchase phones with a low SAR, if they wish to avoid the harmful effects of high SAR.
The problem with this is that SAR only monitors thermal effects. In other words, if the radiation isn’t cooking our brain, it’s deemed safe. Increasing evidence shows that the non-thermal radiation from a cell phone (the energy waves that connect cell phones to cell towers) can damage the immune system and alter cellular functioning, even at intensities considered safe by the FCC. The FCC finally came around to admitting this in 2010 and revised its advice by saying that choosing a low SAR handset is not a safety advantage. In fact, some of the lowest SAR phones actually emit higher total SAR into brain tissue than the much higher SAR phones—it’s just spread out a lot more through the brain tissue. What generally happens is that low SAR phones are less efficient at getting their signals out to the base station and so they need to work at a much higher power to compensate.
Cell Phone Radiation Danger: A “Human Health Experiment”
It’s clear that the telecom industry and government agencies, by continuing to claim a lack of “conclusive” evidence, are not stepping forward to protect us from the hazardous effects of cell phones. As Lloyd Morgan, author and member of the Bioelectromagetics Society, states:
“Exposure to cell phone radiation is the largest human health experiment ever undertaken without informed consent and has some four billion [now estimated over 5 billion] participants enrolled.”
Almost every environmental toxin in the US has had a sales/use life of at least 20-40 years before significant restrictions on use have finally been introduced. Think about asbestos, tobacco, radioactive radium in watch faces, thalidomide, Vioxx. The wireless communications industry, in its various forms, is one of the few current “boom” industries in a failing economy, bringing in billions of profit to industry each year.
Taking Precautions to Prevent Cell Phone Health Risks
It’s obviously up to consumers to take care of themselves through education and wise decision-making about what is important. It’s too late to turn back; too many of us are now dependent on our cell phones in our current lifestyles. We also want our children to have the safety that owning cell phones gives them. We can’t give up these devices that are not only highly convenient, but often necessary and even life-saving.
Taking certain precautions is certainly wise, such as
• Texting whenever possible
• Using your cell phone only when you have good reception
• Using the speakerphone or airtube headset, and
• Carrying your phone as far away from your body as possible
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1. Davis, Deva. Disconnect: The Truth About Cell Phone Radiation–What the Industry has done to Hide it, and How to Protect your Family.
2. Gittelman, Louise. Zapped–Why Your Cell Phone Shouldn’t be Your Alarm Clock and 1,268 Ways to Outsmart the Hazards of Electronic Pollution.
3. International Agency for Research on Cancer (2011-05-31). “IARC classifies radiofrequency electromagnetic fields as possibly carcinogenic to humans” (PDF). Press release. Retrieved 2011-06-02.
4. “Conclusions on mobile phones and radio frequency fields”. European Commission Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks (SCENIHR). Retrieved 2008-12-08.
5. International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (April 1998). “Guidelines For Limiting Exposure To Time-Varying Electric, Magnetic, And Electromagnetic Fields (up to 300 GHz)” (PDF). Health Physics 74 (4): 494–505. PMID 9525427. Retrieved 2010-03-28.
6. Foster, Kenneth R.; Repacholi, Michael H. (2004). “Biological Effects of Radiofrequency Fields: Does Modulation Matter?”. Radiation Research 162 (2): 219–25.
7. Bionitiative Report, 2007.
8. International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health. Swedish Institute for Working Life Report, 2006.