Cell Phones and Cancer

cell phones and cancerThey are called international experts. They work for the International Agency for Research on Cancer, part of the World Health Organization (WHO), and are highly respected in their field. Their recent statement about cell phones and their relationship to cancer has drawn a ho-hum reaction from the garrulous public. This august body has reviewed possible connections between the kind of electromagnetic radiation in cell phones and irregularities in body tissues that might cause brain tumors, both cancerous and non-cancerous, and tumors of the auditory nerves and salivary glands.

Oddly, last year’s studies on the same topic found no direct link of cell phone use to tumor formation anywhere in the body. But there are groups that recoil at the hint of the slightest relationship. Studies conducted in Europe, the United States and New Zealand found that brain tumor patients had not used their cell phones any more often than unaffected persons. Most of the studies fail to show a dose-response relationship, such as would be sought in drug trials. What has been shown in Swedish studies is an increased risk for tumors on the side of the head where the cell phone was held, especially with ten or more years of use. Nonetheless, the WHO team grouped cell phones with category 2B carcinogens that include internal combustion exhausts and DDT, as well as postmenopausal estrogen-progesterone therapy, potassium bromate (a bread additive banned in Europe, Canada, the UK and Brazil, but not in the U.S.), and fiberglass, all of these being modified by the term, “possibly carcinogenic to humans.”

Some of the verifiable dangers of cell phone use include crashing into your garage door, misjudging the arc of a left-hand turn, and getting a ticket in a venue that outlaws the use of such a device while driving.  None of these, however, is 100% predictable.  There are too many “ifs” to allow a definitive answer.

When they became widely available in the early 1990’s, cell phones were suddenly de rigueur.  From the outset they emanated radio waves, the frequencies of which fall between microwaves and FM radio waves.  This might make you feel as though you were caught between a rock and a hard place, being forced to make a decision between your jazz station and the TV dinner.

Your cell phone is more a glorified walkie-talkie defined by a geographical grid in which it will work.  Inside the myriad grids are cells that cover smaller areas.  Each cell uses a set of frequencies to provide service in its specific zone.  Because the power of these frequencies is controlled according to distance from the tower, thus limiting range, the same frequencies may be used in neighboring cells.  Modern antennas are wireless, so they may be set up almost anywhere:  church steeples, trees, atop flagpoles and on tall buildings.  They can even be blocked by trees and topography, just like radio waves.  Your cell message may be routed through the air to a landline, and then through the air again to the person you are calling.  Other times the message goes from your phone to the transmission tower, and then to your recipient.

If you happen to be moving while conversing, the signal weakens as you leave your cell.  At that point your call is handed over to an antenna with a stronger signal.  As long as wireless providers get along with each other, your signal may be relayed to a different provider than yours, who then keeps you in touch.  This is called roaming.

Cell phones cannot cause cancer by directly affecting DNA.  These radio frequency waves are not nearly so strong as x-rays or ultra-violet light.  They are non-ionizing, like visible light waves, heat waves, and FM radio waves.  However, what they do is to heat up the body’s tissues, just as the microwave does to your Idaho potato.  Heating from the inside out, a microwave causes molecules to vibrate and to rub against each other—friction.  This creates the heat that cooks your dinner.  In this cooking technique, a medium-rare piece of meat would be cooked on the inside and pink on the outside, exactly the opposite of what happens inside a broiler, oven, or sauté pan.  Purportedly, the same action occurs when you use a cell phone.  You get hot in the head, if only by a fraction of a degree.  It is speculated that this affects only the cornea of the eye (which, because of lack of vascularization, has no blood vessels to keep it cooled down) more than the rest of the head.  Yet, no cataracts or other pathologies have been noticed.

There is no definitive answer to this poser other than an increase in glucose metabolic activity at the site of cell phone-head contact.   The significance of that is unknown.  People with pacemakers have no special warnings to follow, even if the garage door opens when they cough.  Nonetheless, it is advised that they keep their cell phones out of breast pockets, which is the equivalent of staying indoors to avoid being hit by a meteor or Mary Poppins.

If you have concerns about this issue, you might want to limit cell phone usage.  If you’re a teenager reading this, forget it. You won’t listen, anyway.  You could opt to move the antenna away from your head, which means you either have to yell with all your might and listen really, really hard, or use some kind of hands-free device.  Another option is to buy a phone that gives off very low levels of electromagnetic waves.  What about cordless phones in the house, you know, the kind with a base set and a wireless handset that is lost somewhere in the sofa cushions?  Not a problem, since their power is only .17% (that’s 17/100 percent) of a cell phone.  The last alternative is two tin cans and a string, a very long string.  Except for chemistry, physics and mathematics, most sciences are not as exact as we would like them to be, and reports of their research are sometimes confusing, contradictory, or both.  In some circles these sciences are called practices.


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*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA.
These products are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure, or prevent any disease.

Electromagnetic Fields (EMF)

young-businesswomanHave you ever had the feeling that your body, mind and spirit were in three separate places, and that you needed the better part of the day to call them to a serious get-together? How about the nondescript notion that something is amiss, but you can’t quite put your finger on it, and it’s not sufficiently debilitating to see the doctor? You might be living with—or through—electromagnetic sensitivity (ES). What makes this hard to understand is that some scientists and physicians recognize this state as a legitimate concern, while others treat it disdainfully. (Genuis. 2011) Often it is connected to multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS), which is also a controversial diagnosis, despite being recognized by the Social Security Administration and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development as a disabling condition. Too many medical professionals have tried to convince patients that their incapacitation is “in their heads,” or is the manifestation of a “poor attitude.” The sufferers of ES / MCS can conclude that their physicians’ training and education stopped at the medical school portals…narrow door, narrow mind. What worked for medicos a decade ago may not be part of today’s tool kit.

ES is an environmentally-triggered illness that produces symptoms in those exposed to common levels of electromagnetic fields (EMF) from electrical sources in the environment: power lines, motors, computers, trains, stereos, kitchen appliances, electric blankets, cell phones, and more, including the microwave oven. The nervous system is the primary site affected by electromagnetic fields, and those with nervous system damage from prior insult seem predisposed to ES. (Rea. 1991) Persons with chronic fatigue and mercury toxicity (from dental amalgams) are among the more susceptible. Although possibly begotten from other causes, symptoms include fatigue, nausea, headaches, loss of memory and concentration, buzzing ears (tinnitus), skin problems, insomnia, seizures, dizziness, and vague feelings of illness. Because the etiology is evasive, patients may be dismissed as psychosomatic.

One’s exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMF) varies according to occupation, venue, and routine. The general population is likely to see EMF as more invasive than those in occupations that employ electromagnetism regularly, such as radiographers or certain security personnel who work around metal detectors. (van Dongen. 2011) This attitude may be a matter of education, or what some may term selective indoctrination (brainwashing). Perceived health risks, therefore, are subjective. For people suffering ES, a trip to the doctor is akin to jumping from the pan into the fire, since the office is loaded with EMF’s from computers and their monitors, fluorescent lights, and testing equipment. It’s even worse in a hospital. MRI machines and ultrasound sources are especially bothersome. Regular cell phone use, and even wearing one, can contribute to misery. No medicine is available to bring relief…only avoidance, which is practically impossible.

Studies on the effects of EMF on pregnant women have returned mixed results. Group sizes have been too small to be significant; the combined expertise in EMF physics, engineering and reproductive biology has been absent; and the properties of the electromagnetic waves themselves are listed as confounding factors. To some scientists, this sounds more like excuses than truth. But it’s been determined that exposure to “normal” levels of EMF are not harmful to the developing fetus. (Brent. 1993) (Brent. 1999) In this context, “normal” levels of exposure relate to video display terminals. All common EMF sources were reviewed in Italian research, where video display terminals again were exculpated. However, electric blankets, power lines, heated waterbeds, and other sources that directly contact the body or that emit high intensity pulses have been weakly associated with congenital defects and growth retardation. (Luchini. 1992)

Microwave exposure, regardless of source, has been seen to reduce levels of glutathione in the human (and lab animal) body. Glutathione occurs widely in plant and animal tissue, where it plays a role in cellular respiration and serves as a cofactor for several enzymes. It’s best known as the prime protector against oxidative stress where, for example, it protects red blood cells against the toxic hydrogen peroxide that results from certain metabolic activities. Furthermore, such exposure leads to the overproduction of reactive oxygen species and the inhibition of protective enzymes and hormones (Kesari. December, 2011), such as melatonin, the hormone that regulates sleep, mood, and even ovarian cycles, and may be protective against cancer. (Kesari. November, 2011) These studies focused on 2.45 GHz microwave radiation, that which comes from microwave ovens, radio-controlled toys, and some phone systems. The EMF’s found in parts of the house where FM radios, blue tooth and television sets are common are often very low, sometimes not measurable. (Breckenkamp. 2011)

There are no objective tests to diagnose ES, but there have been enough subjective reports to warrant a closer look. Some people are bothered only when devices are put through on-off cycles; others all the time, reporting constant headaches, muscle twitches and even skipped heartbeats. (McCarthy. 2011) As luck would have it, it’s hard to duplicate most symptoms in a blinded laboratory setting, leading investigators to question biophysical hypersensitivy without completely denying its existence. (Rubin. 2005) One symptom that appears often is tinnitus—ringing in the ears. More than half the subjects with self-reported EMS experience this, adding that it disrupts sleep and work. Individual use of a cell phone has been excused from tinnitus causation in at least one report. (Landgrebe. 2009)

But that does not excuse cell phones from all purported debilitations. Memory function was impaired in laboratory animals exposed to cell phone radiation for as little as two hours a week for almost a year. But these creatures are considerably smaller than an adult human, so interpretation of the results calls for a light touch. (Nittby. 2008) Pulsed EMF, which results from storage and sudden release of energy, may have adverse effects on neuronal function, as determined by German studies on subjects whose auditory discrimination tasks suffered following exposure. The ensuing recommendation of these investigators is to remove cell phones from children, the elderly, and the sick. (Maier. 2004)

As research gains momentum and relates EMF’s to a multitude of ills, including Alzheimer’s disease, impaired red blood cell flow and conditions of lesser chronicity, we may come to realize that progress has more take than give. People react to some frequencies more than to others, but not all people respond the same way. Altering an environment to accommodate all comers is neither feasible nor likely. That means taking matters into one’s own hands. There is little room to get into the physics of EMF, but suffice it to say that 2.5 mG (milligauss) is close to the tolerable limit of exposure, though no RDA has been set. Most states in the U.S. have adopted a 3.0 mG cutoff, though some researchers prefer 1.0. The EPA says 1.0 mG, which agrees with Sweden. The Russians view .001 mG as enough. Protecting yourself is as simple as turning off the electric blanket before getting into bed, shutting off the TV and computer monitor when not using them, stepping away from the microwave while it’s on, eschewing fluorescent lamps where possible, testing appliances with a handheld meter before purchasing, and fighting the power company that wants to put high tension wires in your neighborhood. If you own a gauss meter, look for a level of 0.5 mG in your home. That’s where you put your pillow. Of course, you may not be a victim of electromagnetic sensitivity. You might be interested in, where Dr. David Carpenter, noted EMF researcher, looks at high-voltage power lines.


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*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA.
These products are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure, or prevent any disease.

Cell Phone Radio Frequency And Child Behavior

Radiation-Cell-phoneUntil we’ve mastered the art of telepathy as a means of universal communication, we’re stuck with the cell phone and all that it brings to the table, some of which can be anticipated, like the bill at the end of the month, and some that can’t be expected, like the radio frequency radiation that is alleged to change your unborn child from Mother Teresa to Attila the Hun. Funny thing about science, there’s a study for everything, except for why the eye of a needle is not at the other end.

It has been assumed that using a cell phone in front of your unborn child will render cerebral changes in him/her that will eventuate into attention deficit and hyperactivity. Such is the conclusion of a group of Yale School of Medicine researchers who worked with mice. The authors of this study noted an increase of neurobehavioral disorders in children and decided to look for a cause. To be fair to researchers, mice are used in the laboratory because some of their metabolic characteristics parallel those of humans, and because they mature quickly enough to track their development in a reasonable time span. They also share 99% of their genes with humans.

In this experiment, pregnant mice were exposed to an activated, but muted, cell phone suspended above their cage, while a pregnant control group was exposed to a deactivated phone. As adults, those mice subjected to cell phone radiation as fetuses tended to be more hyperactive and had reduced memory capacity compared to the controls. The outcome was attributed to dose-responsive impaired glutamatergic synaptic transmission onto layer V pyramidal neurons of the prefrontal cortex. Got it?  Not exactly a topic at your next cocktail party, this scientific crooning means that the neurological wires in the front part of the brain don’t develop the right way. This is the section of the brain in charge of complex cognitive behaviors, personality expression, decision making and social behavior.  Like other pronouncements in the research world, “further experiments are needed…to determine the risk of exposure during pregnancy.”  (Aldad, 2012)

Rodent pregnancies typically last fewer than three weeks, and the brains of newborn mice are far less developed than those of human babies. Despite the findings, potential risks in humans might not be similar. However, in human studies done in Germany, scientists found that about 6% of children who were exposed to radio-frequency electromagnetic fields at any time in their existence exhibited “abnormal mental behavior.”  Here, too, “more studies…are warranted…”  (Thomas, 2010)

If a definitive case can be made for the hazard of cell phone radiation, it’ll certainly be a major public health concern. But a trend in this direction might have been established in a Danish study that recruited the cell-phone-using mothers of more than 13,000 children. The mothers were enrolled early in their pregnancies, and seven years later were asked to submit a subjective questionnaire regarding the current health and behavior status of their school-aged children. Those children who had prenatal or postnatal exposure to cell phone use demonstrated greater association with behavioral difficulties and hyperactivity. (Divan, 2008)  Other, confounding, factors may have come into play, though, including diet, lifestyle and permissiveness, exposure to environmental contaminants such as heavy metals, and genetics. Cognitive and language development seem not to be affected by cell phones, as evidenced in a subsequent study by the same research team. (Divan, 2011)

Repeatability is characteristic of a well-constructed study. To ascertain the results of their 2008 report, Divan and colleagues duplicated that work, but with more than twice the number of subjects and the consideration of the confounders. The findings were the same:  prenatal and postnatal cell phone use is associated with behavior problems in school-aged children. (Divan, 2010)  To confuse the issue, Spanish researchers found little evidence of abnormal neurodevelopment in a prenatal group exposed to cell phone radiation when tested at 14-months of age and compared to a group of nonusers. (Vrijheid, 2010)  What seems to be needed is a longitudinal study, one that tracks the development of, and tests, the same group of users and nonusers over a period of time, maybe ten or more years.

If the results of a ten-year study were absolutely definitive of cell phone culpability, it’s unlikely that patterns of cell phone use would change, despite a risk of uncomfortable child behavior. Returning to the dark ages of landlines is unthinkable. Besides, in a few years the problem will belong to somebody else. What self-respecting parent would sacrifice immediate convenience for the future?


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*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA.
These products are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure, or prevent any disease.