Is It Safe to Use CellphonesThis is a re-post of an article, which we felt would be interesting to many readers.  Is It Safe to Use Cellphones? Bottom line is, manage and limit your use of cell phones until the experts finally can come to a conclusion. Remember they said that cigarettes would not cause cancer and now it is a proven fact! Everyone is protecting their positions and avoiding admitting any obligation because of the money involved.

Is It Safe to Use Cellphones?

OTTAWA-Devra Davis recalls the moment six years ago when the seeds of her cellphone safety campaign were laid.

She was visiting her son and daughter-in-law, enjoying the sight of her grandson crawling on the floor. At one point he encountered a cellphone, reached for it and put it to his head. For most people such precocious conduct would earn an indulgent smile.

Davis, however, “shrieked, ‘no, no.’ My daughter-in-law looked at me like I’d lost my mind and asked what was the problem. I explained that you don’t want a microwave-emitting device next to a child’s brain.”

The shriek — perhaps an overreaction — was based on the American epidemiologist and toxicologist’s growing knowledge of the dangers of cellphone radiation.

That awareness has in recent years made Davis one of the foremost critics of the phone-making industry.

She believes cellphone radiation is a pending public health crisis that, if not checked, will see a surge in brain cancers within the next decade.

“I am deeply concerned about the experiment we are conducting on our children and grandchildren,” says the author of Disconnect: The Truth about Cell Phone Radiation, What the Industry has Done to Hide It, and How to Protect Your Family. “People are putting iPhones that play white noise under the pillows of babies to help them sleep. iPhones and babies are a horrifying combination.”

Davis, who worked for many years at the United States National Academy for Sciences, where she founded the Board on Environmental Studies and Toxicology, and, more recently, was director of the Center for Environmental Oncology at the University of Pittsburgh’s Cancer Institute, will be in Ottawa today to give a public lecture on the effects of cellphones on the human brain, male fertility and, arguably, cognitive function.

The lecture, scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at the Congregation Machzikei Hadas synagogue on Virginia Drive, is jointly sponsored by Prevent Cancer Now and the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation.

Davis, who has established the Environmental Health Trust, a non-profit organization that researches public health issues, acknowledges that cellphones already come with warnings that say users shouldn’t hold them on their bodies or next to their heads. But she points out that those warnings are buried deep in the fine print and, besides, people only find the warning after they’ve purchased the gadget.

What’s needed, says Davis, is legislation requiring advisory labels on cellphones and in stores warning about the effects of long-term radiation exposure.

Coincidently, New Democratic MPP France Gélinas early this month proposed exactly that in a private member’s bill in the Ontario legislature. The would-be legislation flies in the face of claims by Health Canada, which sets the standards on cellphone safety, that Canadians need have no concerns about using the instrument.

Health Canada bureaucrats know not what they do, says Davis. “The whole area is a complex one of science and engineering, and most people, including physicians, politicians and those who set the standards, are ignorant about it. Yet they make recommendations about how to deal with this issue.”

To be sure, Davis admits that “the majority of human studies of cellphones and brain cancer find nothing.” But that, she says, is largely because of the limitations of studies themselves.

Brain cancer can take 40 years to develop after the first exposure to radiation, Davis says. All of the human studies of which she’s aware, including the Interphone study done a few years ago by the World Health Organization, only collected data on people who’d developed brain tumours between 2002 and 2004. It also defined a cellphone user as someone who made one call a week for six months. Even so, the WHO study concluded someone who used a cellphone for half-an-hour every day for 10 years had double the risk of developing giloma, a form of tumour that grows on the side of the head where the cellphone is commonly placed.

Davis argues that such assumptions about cellphone use are clearly inadequate considering the ubiquity of the gadget and the fact that many people, including children and teenagers, use their cellphones every day for hours on end.

A cellphone is basically a two-wave microwave radio that operates at the same frequency as a microwave oven. Digital signals are sent and received by antennas of the backs of the instruments. Nowadays, most everyone is exposed to cellphone radiation; worldwide cellphone subscriptions are in the five billion range.

Davis is particularly concerned about children’s use of cellphones. The depth of cellphone radiation penetration into the brain largely depends on the age and health of the person. Children are more vulnerable than adults because their skulls are thinner, allowing digital signals to penetrate deeper. They also have more fluid in the brains; the more fluid the easier the transmission of microwave radiation.

But, as Davis points out, industry safety standards for cellphones are based now obsolete analog phones used about six minutes at a time by a user who was assumed to by a six-foot-two-inch man weighing some 200 pounds and with an 11-pound head — not toddlers or tweens, who, as it seems, are perpetually attached to their gadgets and, hence, to constant low doses of microwave radiation.

Microwaves were long thought to be benign since as a type of non-ionizing radiation they weren’t sufficiently strong to removed electrons from atoms. Nevertheless, recent experiments suggest microwaves can do damage at the cellular level.

“We now know that cellphone signals can damage sperm,” says Davis. “Studies have been done on sperm taken from healthy men and when sperm is exposed to cellphone radiation it dies three to four times faster than if it hasn’t been exposed.”

Similarly, studies on rats suggest a connection between exposure to cellphone radiation and mental functioning. Rats trained to find their way through a maze to a food source suddenly lose this ability — “they can’t find their way back to the food,” as Davis puts it — after prolonged exposure to cellphone radiation. That, she says, suggests their memory was affected by the radiation.

All this leads Davis to worry that unless people are better informed about the hazards of cellphone use, and start to take precautions with the gadget — everything from using hands-freeing to keeping it away from you body by storing it in backpacks or purse — they may well pay a steep price later in life. Already, she says, “we are seeing cases of young men with brain tumours now showing up who have used cellphones exclusively for 10 or 15 years.”

And if nothing is done? “I fear we are watching an epidemic in slow motion.”

Dr. Devra Davis’s cellphone dos and don’ts

  • When talking try to keep your cellphone away from your body as much as possible. Store it in a backpack, purse or satchel.
  • Use a speaker phone or a wired headset (but don’t make the mistake of having the phone on your body, which defeats the point of using the headset).
  • If you must carry it on your belt, turn the keypad toward your body so the antenna, in the back of the gadget, faces away from you, thus lessening the radiation dosage you receive.
  • Keep your cellphone away from you when you sleep. Don’t place it next to the bed or under the pillow.
  • When you don’t need it, turn it off, or at least place in airplane mode.
  • Pregnant women should avoid having a cellphone near their abdomen.
  • Encourage children to text rather than talk on a cellphone. In any case, children should only use a cellphone next to their heads in emergencies.
  • Don’t use a cellphone for conversations lasting more than a few minutes.
  • Switch sides in which you use a cellphone to spread out your exposure.

For more details and thoughts about cell phone safety, click here.

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