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Turn Off That Cell Phone!

March 23, 2014
Original Author: Keren Perles

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The World Health Organization (WHO) has already listed cell phones as ‘possibly carcinogenic to humans’—in the same category as lead, engine exhaust, DDT, and jet fuel.

Devra Davis

epidemiologist and author of Disconnect: The Truth About Cell Phone Radiation

The Lowdown on Wireless Radiation and Your Child

Technology is the catchword of the millennium. As parents, we are constantly trying to figure out how to balance our children’s need for technology with the possible negative effects of screen use – such as lack of social skills, difficulty focusing, or inability to prioritize schoolwork. But according to a growing body of research, there’s a bigger issue at stake here: our children’s physical health.

“The World Health Organization (WHO) has already listed cell phones as ‘possibly carcinogenic to humans’—in the same category as lead, engine exhaust, DDT, and jet fuel,” says Devra Davis, epidemiologist and author of Disconnect: The Truth About Cell Phone Radiation. The same applies to all wireless devices, included wireless home phones, Wi-Fi routers, and even wireless baby monitors.

 Are Our Kids at Risk?

The results of recent studies seem to be mixed about the effect of wireless radiation on human health. Many studies have suggested a relationship between wireless radiation and various conditions, such as brain cancer, breast cancer, hearing loss, altered brain activity, fertility issues, impaired cognitive abilities, and immune system deficiencies.

But according to John Moulder, Professor and Director of Radiation Biology at the Medical College of Wisconsin, there’s plenty of research that has found low levels of wireless radiation as completely safe. “There are certainly studies suggesting a possible association between mobile phone use and cancer, but I would not say that any of them present ‘conclusive’ evidence,” Moulder maintains. In fact, in 2010 he published a review to that effect in the journal Mutation Research that analyzed dozens of studies on the topic.

And it’s not just Moulder. Many in the scientific community believe that the hype about wireless radiation is based on studies that are not strong enough to be entirely convincing. At the conclusion of his review, he maintains that “a careful look at the data shows that the weight of evidence is rather poor if not inexistent. Many investigations were for example flawed by methodological short- comings as for example the lack of own control-data, the use of a wrong methodology, too few cells or too few individuals… Moreover, taking also into account the possibility of selection bias, confounding factors and difficulties in finding appropriate control populations, it is clear that these studies presently offer little insight regarding genotoxicity of RFR in human populations.”

The Debate Continues

But according to Davis and others who believe that wireless devices are truly harmful, this attitude is understandable yet dangerous. “You have to understand the scientific medical model,” says Kerry Crofton, author of A Wellness Guide for the Digital Age: With Safer-Tech Solutions for All Things Wired and Wireless. “There are a great number of academics and mainstream scientists and medical people that view the problem as nonexistent until it’s been fully published in peer-reviewed with long-term, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies with thousands of subjects – a process that takes years and years. But we don’t have that kind of time.”

Crofton and Davis view themselves as safeguarding the future – like those who fought for the removal of asbestos or lead from household materials. “Consider this,” says Davis. “Lead paint was banned in many European countries in the 30’s, yet the United States waited until the 70’s to ban it.”

Crofton and Davis believe that children are at an especially high risk of being harmed from wireless radiation. “Current standards were not developed with children’s vulnerabilities in mind,” says Davis. “Keeping wireless devices close to the pregnant abdomen is potentially dangerous because the developing fetus is especially susceptible to radiation. Even after a child is born, it remains particularly susceptible to wireless radiation. Because children’s brains are still developing, their skulls are softer and thinner than an adult’s skull, and have more fluid than an adult. This means that children’s brains absorb more radiation.”

“Not only that, but the long term cell phone studies used by the World Health Organization had 30 minutes a day as ‘heavy’ use. No research has considered the kind of 24-hour exposure our kids are experiencing.”

Studies in Europe show that people who used cell phone heavily for over ten years have a doubled risk of brain cancer, and those who begin using cell phones as teenagers have a four to five times higher chance of being diagnosed with brain cancer. Experiments have also been conducted on wireless radiation and sperm.

Scientists took two test tubes of sperm from the same healthy man, and, exposing only one to cell phone radiation, found that the one exposed to radiation had sperm that died three times more quickly and had three times more damage to its mitochondrial DNA. There are additionally many studies done on the link between cell phone use and breast cancer. Case studies have been done on young women who stored their cell phones in their bra and developed unusual tumors right below the location where they kept their phone. These women have no history of breast cancer.