Cellphone Radiation May Alter Your Brain. Let’s Talk.
The New York Times
Some studies have suggested a link between cellphone use and cancer, lower bone density and infertility in men. But other studies show no effect at all.
In a culture where people cradle their cellphones next to their heads with the same constancy and affection that toddlers hold their security blankets, it was unsettling last month when a study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association indicated that doing so could alter brain activity.
The report said it was unclear whether the changes in the brain — an increase in glucose metabolism after using the phone for less than an hour — had any negative health or behavioral effects. But it has many people wondering what they can do to protect themselves short of (gasp) using a landline.
“Cellphones are fantastic and have done much to increase productivity,” said Dr. Nora Volkow, the lead investigator of the study and director of the National Institute of Drug Abuse at the National Institutes of Health. “I’d never tell people to stop using them entirely.”
Yet, in light of her findings, she advises users to keep cellphones at a distance by putting them on speaker mode or using a wired headset whenever possible. The next best option is a wireless Bluetooth headset or earpiece, which emit radiation at far lower levels. If a headset isn’t feasible, holding your phone just slightly away from your ear can make a big difference; the intensity of radiation diminishes sharply with distance. “Every millimeter counts,” said Louis Slesin, editor of Microwave News, an online newsletter covering health and safety issues related to exposure to electromagnetic radiation.
So crushing your cellphone into your ear to hear better in a crowded bar is probably a bad idea. Go outside if you have to take or make a call. And you might not want to put your cellphone in your breast or pants pocket either, because that also puts it right up against your body. Carry it in a purse or briefcase or get a nonmetallic belt clip that orients it away from your body.
Some studies have suggested a link between cellphone use and cancer, lower bone density and infertility in men. But other studies show no effect at all. Given the mixed messages and continuing research, Robert Kenny, a Federal Communications Commission spokesman, said in an e-mail, “As always, we will continue to study this issue and coordinate with our federal partners.”
The phone used in Dr. Volkow’s study was a Samsung Knack, model SCH-U310, a flip phone that was in wide use when she began planning her experiments two and half years ago. But today’s ubiquitous smartphones emit even more radiation as they transmit more, and more complex, data. Continue reading