Cell phones have transformed from a luxury into a necessity for the people of today’s generation. Children are starting to use cell phones at increasingly younger ages and more adults are upgrading their flip phones to smartphones and encouraging their elders to do the same. Whether for work or for play, cell phone subscriptions total to over 6 billion worldwide. With this rapid increase in mobile phone usage, the potential health effects of cell phones have been of recent interest.
Cell phones emit radiofrequency energy, which is a form of non-ionizing electromagnetic radiation. This means that it is relatively low-energy radiation and lacks the energy to ionize atoms or molecules. While this sounds promising, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified cell phone radiation as Group 2B—possibly carcinogenic. This implies a possible risk of carcinogenicity and that is a little frightening!
Fortunately, there is no concrete evidence that links non-ionizing radiation to cancer. However, tissues can absorb the radiofrequency energy where the phone is held and I do not like the idea of anything being absorbed into my body—let alone radiofrequency energy that is being researched for speculative links to cancer! It is also noteworthy that children still have developing nervous systems and thinner skulls. Thus they are at an increased risk for greater proportional exposure to the radiofrequency radiation.
Furthermore, while there is no definite confirmation of a link to cancer, there are still some statistically significant findings in certain subgroups of people. In addition to cancer, there are studies that show cell phone radiation may alter brain glucose consumption, as well as reduce sperm count and sperm quality.
While the research of the effects of cell phone radiation so far proves no definite harm to our health, all the possible findings are a little alarming. So while we can technically take a sigh of relief for now that our cell phones are safe to use, it is better to be precautionary when regarding cell phones, especially with children.
The amount of radiofrequency energy a cell phone user is exposed to depends on many factors, including the technology of the phone, the distance between the phone and the user, the extent of use, and the user’s distance from cell phone towers. So if you are like me and are wary of cell phones, keep these factors in mind!
Better safe than sorry, right? Here is a helpful guide to safer cell phone use:
- Go hands free! Use a headset or speaker mode. Just be sure to take off your headset when you’re not on the phone.
- Call when the signal is strong. Fewer signal bars means that your phone is trying harder to broadcast its signal, subsequently increasing radiation exposure dramatically.
- Hold your phone away from your body. The further the distance means the less radiation absorption by your head and body.
- Do not keep your phone in your pocket or on your bed at night. Even when a cell phone is not in use it still sends out a signal to connect with the nearest cell phone tower. This means that radiation exposure is still occurring.
- Avoid cell phone use in any moving vehicle. As you move, your cell phone is continuously trying to connect to the nearest tower, once again increasing radiation exposure.