A new landmark study released by the National Toxicology Program, a part of the National Institutes for Health, found that cell phone radiation may be more dangerous than previously believed. The animal study assessed the effects of radiofrequency radiation (RFR) imparted by cellphones to determine whether there is a link to cancer. The study found a link between cell phone radiation and brain cancer as well as cancerous tumors of the heart.
The partial evidence links cell phones to low occurrences of these cancer types and tumors–which, even at low levels, is worrisome for everyday cell phone users. The animals were exposed to radiation as early as in utero and throughout their lifetime to determine the possible ramifications of cell phone exposure. While I don’t endorse the study’s methodology, I think it’s important that we know the radiation risks for humans.
The results link a type of brain cancer known as glioma as well as cancerous heart tumors to cell phone radiation exposure. This information is just one part of a multi-year study that is still ongoing. Additional animal studies assessing the radiation-cancer risk are currently underway at the National Institutes for Health.
According to the study scientists: “Given the widespread global usage of mobile communications among users of all ages, even a very small increase in the incidence of disease resulting from exposure to RFR could have broad implications for public health.”
The study supports the World Health Organization’s (WHO) declaration that cell phone radiation is a “possible carcinogen”—an announcement the organization made five years ago. At that time, the WHO found an increased risk of glioma, a type of brain cancer, in those exposed to cell phone radiation. Some of the possible symptoms of glioma include: headache; seizures; weakness in the arms, face or legs; numbness; or speech problems. Additional studies link cell phone radiation exposure to lower sperm counts and damaged sperm in men.
More research outlining the health effects of cell phone radiation is needed, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take precautions if you use a cell phone.
While there are no known ways to completely remove the health risk from cell phone radiation, according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), here are some suggestions to reduce the damaging effects of cell phone radiation exposure:
•If you’re going to use a cell phone, text more and talk less, to cut down on the amount of radiation to which you’re exposed.
•Use your phone when there are more bars indicating a stronger cell phone signal. Research shows that radiation exposure increases when cell phone signals are weak (fewer bars).
•Use your phone in speaker mode rather than against your head or in your ear. Of course, it’s still a good idea to use common courtesy when your cell phone is on speakerphone by going outside or finding a spot away from restaurant, café, or other public venues.
•Limit cell phone use if you are pregnant.
•Avoid using “radiation shields” as they reduce the quality of the phone connection, thereby forcing the phone to transmit with greater energy and higher amounts of radiation.
•Don’t keep your phone in a pocket or clipped onto a belt.
James Achanyi-Fontem, is a Senior Health Journalist and Communication Consultant. He worked as a health journalist and broadcaster for 30 years with Radio Cameroon and later Cameroon Radio Television, CRTV before retiring in 2005 to engage fully with Cameroon Link (Human Assistance Programme). Cameroon Link is a registered charity, not-for-profit organisation involved in the promotion of community health, humanitarian assistance, promotion of women and child rights through involvement of communities in Cameroon for mother and child health care. Cameroon Link is a partner to Commonwealth of Learning (COL), Farm Radio International (FRI), International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN Africa), World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA). As the intermediary of Commonwealth of Learning (COL), Cameroon Link is engaged to implement a Cameroon Rural Radio story design Programming through an investigative research, which aims to discover through interviewing beneficiaries of health programmes on their interests, documenting and disseminating new ideas about how radio stations produce and air Healthy Communities Radio Programs in Cameroon.