Cell Phones and Possible Health Risks

A prominent cancer researcher’s warning to limit cell phone use has
rekindled anew the longstanding question over mobile-phone health risks.
The media is abuzz with news of the memo from Dr. Ronald B. Herberman,
director of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute. He sent it to
faculty and staff Wednesday, saying, among other things, that children
should use cell phones only for emergencies, since their developing organs
are the most likely to be sensitive to possible effects of exposure to
electromagnetic fields. Dr. Ronald B. Herberman
In his 10-point advisory (see below), Herberman also urges adults to keep
phones away from their heads and use speakerphones or wireless headsets.
He suggests that people try to avoid constantly carrying their cell phones
on their bodies and also try not to keep the devices nearby at night under
the pillow or on a nightstand. He even warns against using cell phones in
public places like buses because it exposes others to the phone’s
electromagnetic fields.
Herberman notes that the precautions have been reviewed by UPCI experts in
neuro-oncology, epidemiology, and neurosurgery, as well as the Center for
Environmental Oncology.
The tumor immunologist’s words are grabbing widespread attention both
because of his professional position and because they contradict numerous
studies that don’t find a link between cancer and cell phone use.
Herberman said his warning was based on early findings from unpublished
"Recently, I have become aware of the growing body of literature linking
long-term cell phone use to possible adverse health effects including
cancer," he says. "Although the evidence is still controversial, I am
convinced that there are sufficient data to warrant issuing an advisory to
share some precautionary advice on cell phone use."
For anyone concerned about possible health repercussions of cell phone
use, many of Herberman’s suggestions are easy enough to implement and
minimally disruptive at most. Still, the topic can prove daunting to
Read the New York Times article.
Practical Advice to Limit Exposure to Electromagnetic Radiation Emitted
from Cell Phones
01 Do not allow children to use a cell phone, except for emergencies. The
developing organs of a fetus or child are the most likely to be sensitive
to any possible effects of exposure to electromagnetic fields.
02.While communicating using your cell phone, try to keep the cell phone
away from the body as much as possible. The amplitude of the
electromagnetic field is one fourth the strength at a distance of two
inches and fifty times lower at three feet.
03.Whenever possible, use the speaker-phone mode or a wireless Bluetooth
headset, which has less than 1/100th of the electromagnetic emission of a
normal cell phone. Use of a hands-free ear piece attachment may also
reduce exposures.
04.Avoid using your cell phone in places, like a bus, where you can
passively expose others to your phone’s electromagnetic fields.
05.Avoid carrying your cell phone on your body at all times. Do not keep it
near your body at night such as under the pillow or on a bedside table,
particularly if pregnant. You can also put it on "flight" or "off-line"
mode, which stops electromagnetic emissions.
06.If you must carry your cell phone on you, make sure that the keypad is
positioned toward your body and the back is positioned toward the outside
so that the transmitted electromagnetic fields move away from your rather
than through you.
07.Only use your cell phone to establish contact or for conversations
lasting a few minutes, as the biological effects are directly related to
the duration of exposure. For longer conversations, use a land line with a
corded phone, not a cordless phone, which uses electromagnetic emitting
technology similar to that of cell phones.
08.Switch sides regularly while communicating on your cell phone to spread
out your exposure. Before putting your cell phone to the ear, wait until
your correspondent has picked up. This limits the power of the
electromagnetic field emitted near your ear and the duration of your
09.Avoid using your cell phone when the signal is weak or when moving at
high speed, such as in a car or train, as this automatically increases
power to a maximum as the phone repeatedly attempts to connect to a new
relay antenna.
10.When possible, communicate via text messaging rather than making a call,
limiting the duration of exposure and the proximity to the body.
11.Choose a device with the lowest SAR possible (SAR = Specific Absorption
Rate, which is a measure of the strength of the magnetic field absorbed by
the body). SAR ratings of contemporary phones by different manufacturers
are available by searching for "sar ratings cell phones" on the internet.
#Prahladananda Swami – 10/8/08

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