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Are Cell Phones Safe?

A disturbing study from the University of Nottingham in England showed that cell phones may not be a safe as we think. Cell phones emit low dose microwaves that do not cause cancer because, unlike X rays, they are not strong enough to break bonds that hold molecules together. The only way that microwaves can cause cell damage is by producing heat. The study in the British Journal, Nature, showed that microwaves cause roundworms to release heat shock proteins that are a sign of tissue injury (Nature, May 25, 2000). The cell damage comes from 800 to 900 MHz range radio frequencies from the antenna inside the phone that sends a signal from your phone to the tower many miles away. The energy generated by electromagnetic waves that come into your cell phone appears to cause no damage.

At the Bioelectromagnetics Society symposium in Washington, D.C. in February 2000, studies were reported showing that 25 percent of people using cellular phones feel heat behind their ears, people who use cell phones regularly have a markedly increased risk for headaches and recurrent fatigue, and 47 percent noted dizziness, concentration difficulties and memory loss. Ross Adey of the University of California, Riverside, showed that exposing a pregnant rat's brain to cell phones raises brain levels of ornithine decarboxylase, an enzyme that helps create polyamines, that may increase risk for brain cancer, but no one has shown that cell phones cause brain cancer (Science News, February 12, 2000).

However, a review of eleven long-term epidemiologic studies shows that using a cell phone for ten years doubles the risk of diagnosis with a brain tumor (glioma, acoustic neuroma) on the same side of head used for the cell phone (Surgical Neurology, August 12, 2009). Since we still do not know if cell phones can cause brain tumors, you would be wise to keep the antenna at least two inches away from your body by using a wired or wireless earpiece such as Bluetooth. The sound waves from these devices have never been implicated in any type of damage.

Checked 10/9/10

June 1st, 2013
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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