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Cell Phones & Cancer Risk

by Sue Hubbard, M.D.

Are you looking for a great gift for your favorite high school or college graduate this time of year? I have an idea for you. A handsfree headset for their cell phone!  There’s a healthy reason behind this.  The World Health Organization (WHO) just announced that radiation from cell phones may cause cancer.

The WHO classified radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (when cell phones are in use) had the potential to be cancer causing to humans.  Several studies showed an increased risk for a type of brain tumor called a glioma.  The news was based upon extensive reviews of numerous studies by 31 scientists from 14 countries.

The working group reviewed the literature to evaluate the potential adverse health effects from electromagnetic fields.  In a news release the director of the group stated, “it is important that additional research be conducted into the long-term, heavy use of mobile phones. Pending the availability of that information, it is important to take measures to reduce exposure such as hands free devices or texting.”

Several of the European studies showed that the risk increased with the number of hours of use, higher radiated power, and length of cell phone use.  It was also reported that younger users might be at greater risk.

With that being said, this is the perfect time to buy a handsfree device to give to that graduate or anyone in your family who uses their cell phone frequently.

For anyone who has a cell phone, why not just get in the habit of using a hands free device from the get-go?  We have taught our children to wear seat belts, (which is really second nature to this generation of kids), so each cell phone should come with a hands free device. Until the phone companies like my idea and bundle the devices with the phones, let’s all just get in the habit of buying one. I just went online to find hands free devices for all of my boys and my daughter-in-law. There is a gift in their future!

Even with ongoing data still being accumulated and analyzed, if there is an increased risk of brain tumors with cell phone use then using a hands free device might be protective.  One thing is for sure, if you are going to use a cell phone while driving, please use a hands free device.  It’s much safer!

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