Q: I want to understand more about the supposed risk of cell phone radiation. Is there real evidence of harm from scientific research yet, or just suspicion? I’d really like to discourage my clients from using their phone so much – especially children and teenagers which really alarms me! I mean their brains are still forming! I know – what a bummer to have such a convenient appliance be toxic. But I am now convinced. I wasn’t before; I was a serious skeptic. But no more! It just doesn’t seem like rocket science to me that holding a constantly “on” radiation source against your head off and on for hours almost every single day is a bad idea – and I am definitely not a scientist! But I feel like I need more data to influence my clients. What can you share?
A: I agree that this is an excellent focus area for all of us in evaluating how our client’s lifestyle choices might be contributing to current – or future! – illness. Bottom line: yes, there is clear evidence of damage to human tissue caused by radiation from sustained use of cell phones against the head and possible increased risk of disease. You are right that there is indeed highly mixed data in the medical media. I think there are two tenets that make research into this health risk contentious and inconsistent in results from study to study: (1) frequency of usage, (2) duration of usage, and (3) frequency emitted from various cell phone brands/models. Long-duration, long-term, and high-frequency use has clearly been demonstrated to be of higher risk than its opposite. Of particular note: the vast majority of cell phones in use today emit a radiation level when placed directly against the head (especially of a child) that is well-above the approved maximum by the U.S. FCC (that is 1.6 W/kg). Most people are shocked to find out that the user’s manual for virtually every cell phone sold today specifies that the phone must be held a distance away from the body or the safe radiation SAR (Specific Absorption Rate) will be exceeded. Of course, “a distance away from the head” is not how the average person actually uses their phone!
Because of the typical time delay between ongoing exposure and the manifestation of overt disease (e.g. brain tumor or other cancer), the health risks of cell phones have indeed been widely disputed. Obviously there is also widespread desire within the industry to avoid exposure and alarm regarding such a ubiquitous lifestyle tool.
Given the status of research into this topic today, I encourage my clients to take the following actions to reduce their risk disease related to cell phone usage.
Here are some points (and links to formal research abstracts) that might be helpful to you:
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