Men who routinely wear their cell phones clipped to their belts have a reduced bone mineral content (BMC) and bone mineral density (BMD) in the hip, according to a study from National University of Cuyo, Mendoza, Argentina. Electromagnetic radiation is theorized to be the cause of the decrease in bone strength.
Dr. Fernando D. Sravi and colleagues measured BMC and BMD at the left and right hip of two groups of healthy men. Twenty-four carried their cell phones in a belt pouch on the right side for at least one year. The remaining 24 did not use cell phones. Dr. Sravi used dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry to measure BMC and BMD, which are standard markers of bone strength.
Men who wore their cell phones on their belts had a relative reduction in the right femoral neck, a part of the femur (thigh) bone near the hip. The cell phone users also had reduced BMD and BMC at the right trochanter, an area at the outside top of the femur bone, close to where the phone would be worn on the belt. The difference between the left and right trochanters was significantly related to the estimated total hours spent carrying the cell phone.
"The different patterns of right-left asymmetry in femoral bone material found in mobile cell phone users and nonusers are consistent with a nonthermal effect of electromagnetic radiofrequency waves not previously described," wrote Dr. Sravi.
The researchers warn that with the rapid growth in cell phone use, any significant effect on BMD could have a substantial effect on the osteoporosis rate in this population. Dr. Sravi would like to replicate the tests using females, who have higher rates of osteoporosis, and children, who would have longer expected lifetime exposure to cell phones.
Dr. Tolga Atay, who has previously studied the link between cell phones and decreased bone density at the iliac wings (the upper rims of the pelvis), agrees that the findings as of yet are preliminary and that further studies are needed to confirm or disprove the hypothesis.
However, he concludes that “it would be better to keep mobile phones as far as possible from our body during our daily lives” as we don’t know the long-term effects of electromagnetic radiation from cell phones.
The findings of both Dr. Sravi’s and Dr. Atay’s studies are found in the Journal of Craniofacial Surgery.
Image via Jackie (abbynormy) at Flickr.com