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This article was published 24/1/2014 (1246 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Could smartphones be slowly killing us? Some experts believe we’re living in an Alice-in-Wonderland world if we ignore radiation from these electronic devices.
So today, here’s an example of what can go wrong.
The Environmental Health Trust’s Newsletter reports an unusual case. A young woman, with no predisposing risk factors for cancer, made a practical decision. She decided to carry her cellphone in her bra. Today with so many cellphones being snatched from people, I give her top marks for ingenuity and increased security.
Unfortunately, she developed breast cancer. But what shocked doctors was that the pattern of the cancer lined up perfectly with the shape of the cellphone.
This single case does not prove that radiation caused the malignancy. But if I were a woman I would not push my luck. I’d sure choose another location to carry my cellphone.
So how serious is this problem? Experts on radiation have warned us for years about "dirty electricity" from cellphones and other electrical appliances. Our homes were originally powered by clean electricity, using a safe frequency of 60 Hertz (Hz). Now, transformers convert 60 Hz to low-voltage power for electronic devices. This creates micro surges of electricity that contain up to 2,500 times the energy of a conventional 60 Hz electrical system. In effect, we are subjecting ourselves to dangerous electrical pollution.
Dr. Devra Davis, author of the book "The Secret History of the War On Cancer," says that cellphone radiation is not only dangerous, but can be lethal. She claims that the biological impact of cellphones is not related to power, but to the erratic nature of the signal which has an adverse affect on DNA repair.
In May 2010, the World Health Association (WHO), released a 10-year study into cellphone use and cancer rates. WHO recognized a significant correlation between brain cancer and those who used their cellphone, wireless home phone or Wi-Fi for more than 30 minutes daily.
Since everyone, including children, will continue to use cellphones, what can be done to decrease the risk? We can all practise what in Europe is called the "Precautionary Principle," which means using old-fashioned horse sense.
Children are at particular risk since they have thinner skull bones, making it easier for cellphone radiation to penetrate deeper into the mid-brain. They also face a lifetime exposure, which places them at greater risk for parotid and deeper brain tumours.
Ideally, children should avoid the electromagnetic radiation of cellphones, or use them only for an emergency. Parents should also stop the dangerous habit of allowing children to sleep with cellphones under their pillows, subjecting them to radiation for hours at close quarters.
Everyone should turn off cellphones not in use and use the speaker on the phone to keep it away from their ears. Being held just a short distance away can decrease radiation exposure from 1,000 to 10,000 times. Remember that texting with a phone exposes a person to the same amount of radiation as talking on the phone.
So use cellphones like porcupines make love — very, very carefully — as it will take years to know the full extent of the danger. This means bras are for breasts, not phones. It’s also prudent not to place a cellphone in a shirt pocket over the heart. And if men want to decrease their sperm count, place it in pants pockets.
For years, I’ve warned readers about the potential dangers of excessive exposure to X-rays and CT scans. For example, a CT scan of the abdomen produces 500 times more radiation than a single chest X-ray and 1,000 more times than a dental X-ray or bone mineral density test. This is why I’ve urged the government to issue radiation cards so that each person knows their total radiation exposure.
I’m also convinced we cannot ignore the danger of electromagnetic radiation from smartphones. It’s the old story of "Caveat emptor," let the buyer beware.
» Dr. Gifford-Jones is a graduate of The University of Toronto and The Harvard Medical School. He took post-graduate training in surgery at the Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester, McGill University in Montreal and Harvard. During his medical training he has been a family doctor, hotel doctor and ship’s surgeon. His medical column is published by 70 Canadian newspapers, several in the U.S. and the Epoch Times which has editions in a number of European countries.