Are you a person who’s most likely to be seen texting on the phone at all times? Do you talk more on the phone than face to face with people? Are you more social online than offline? If you answered yes to the above questions or know somebody who perfectly fits the description, you definitely need to give this article a read. The number of cell phone users is increasing by the minute, along with the increasing nature of the number and length of calls each day. But, did you know that along with all the sound waves, your mobile phones also emit certain radioactive waves and the body part closest to the phone antenna ends up absorbing this energy? Here’s a lowdown on what this energy exactly is, and what it does to your body.
What are Mobile Phone Radiations?
Your mobile phones communicate with their respective base stations via radiofrequency (RF) radiations which are a type of non-ionizing electromagnetic radiation. It’s like a two-way radio, between your mobile handset and the base stations. The latter has antennae which are mounted on a tower or a roof while the former is equipped with a radio receiver and transmitter. When you dial your best friend’s number, the call may get connected within seconds, but in reality, your phone is using RF radiations via it’s antenna to ‘talk’ to the nearest base station. When the base station picks up your signal, your call gets connected and directed to your friend’s phone. Now, the RF radiations emitted by your handset could vary depending on how long you use the phone for, how close you are holding the handset to the body and how close you are to the nearest base station. If you aren’t close enough, your handset increases the level of radiations to compensate. So, if you are infamous for talking on the phone for hours on end, think twice now!
The Threat Today
If this RF radiation is high enough, it will have a consequent thermal effect on one’s body temperature, that is, it will raise the body temperature. So, doctors and medical researchers are showing increasing concerns today, regarding the effects and health problems mobile RF radiations could cause over time. They are said to cause symptoms like headache which might eventually lead to even brain tumors. In May 2011, these mobile-phone-emitted RF radiations were declared to be ‘possibly carcinogenic’ for human life by the World Health Organization (WHO), thus elevating the risk for glioma and brain cancer in humans. This alarming statement then led to a whole new field of research and theories, with various scientific communities putting forward their opinions.
Cell Phones and Cancer
After International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified cellphone radiations to be possibly carcinogenic, more and more research and studies are being conducted into the side-effects of long term, increased use of wireless devices. A cohort study in Denmark, which linked more than 3,58,000 cell phone users with brain tumor history showed no such significant relation between cell phone use and onset of brain diseases like glioma, meningioma, acoustic neuroma etc. The American Cancer Society (ACS) declared that there could be some carcinogenic risk associated to wireless devices, but the evidence is not strong enough and required much further investigation and research. This was seconded by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as well as the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) as they stated that no current scientific evidence points towards the radiations from cell phones causing cancer, but the epidemiologic studies are still in process.
Possible Health Effects of Using Mobile Phones
While research and studies continue into whether or not cell phones cause cancer, there are quite a few health problems which have been found to be caused by long term use of mobile phones. Scientists have reported various adverse health impacts of using cell phones such as changes in sleep patterns, slowing of brain activities and changes in reaction times. RF radiations are also blamed for interfering with various medical and electronic devices such as pacemakers and certain hearing aids. Mobile phone signals also potentially interfere with aircraft signals, which is why the use of these devices are strictly monitored on aircrafts. Needless to say, using cell phones while driving; greatly increases the risk of accidents for both drivers and pedestrians. Distracted driving and usage of a cell phone (either hand held or hands free) elevates the probability of traffic accidents, by at least 3-4 times.
Steps to Reduce Exposure to RF Radiations
Cancer or no cancer, it’s always better to be on the safe side, right? Follow these steps and keep the following things in mind to make sure you are exposed to RF radiations as less as possible. You can choose a handset model which has a low specific absorption rate (SAR) which in turn refers to the low amount of RF radiations to be absorbed by your body tissues. You could use a landline phone at home, if not at all times. Try to keep your phone calls short, and take the help of earphones or Bluetooth to keep a sufficient amount of distance between your cell phone and your head. Talking or using the phone when it’s getting charged must be avoided, if possible.
Fortunately for us, the current international consensus says that mobile phones don’t cause cancer. But, it’s always better to take our own precautions and reduce exposure to RF radiations on one’s own accord. Know how to do that and your mobile phone will always be a boon rather than the bane it could turn out to be.