Is Your Relationship with Your Cell Phone Unhealthy and Unsafe?
Many people would not dream of being without their cell phone in their pocket, purse, or attached to their hip. Some people even sleep with their cell phone under their pillow. Is such a relationship with your cell phone unhealthy, and even unsafe or dangerous?
Cells phones are strange bedfellows
The relationship many people have developed with their cell phones borders on or even crosses over into scary, as a growing number of individuals depend on their mobile devices for many important things in their lives, ranging from managing their banking to making food purchases, paying bills, keeping in touch with family, and scheduling appointments.
If you are among the population that depends on your cell phone for these and other tasks, you would likely be devastated if you lost your phone and all the critical information it contains. In fact, a recent survey by the Pew Research Center noted that 44 percent of cell phone owners sleep with their phone next to the bed so they don’t miss any calls, text messages, or other updates while they should be sleeping.
Nearly one-third of cell phone owners, according to the same survey, also say they could not imagine living without their mobile phones. However, several recent studies suggest it may be wise to put some distance between yourself and your cell phone.
For example, a recent study in the International Journal of Occupational Medicine and Environmental Health looked at the effects of exposure to electromagnetic field radiation from cell phones on fasting glucose levels. Cells phones emit a low level of electromagnetic radiation, a fact that has raised concern among some experts and cell phone users about the potential negative health effects of such radiation.
The study was conducted in 40 male rats that were separated into five equal groups. One group received no radiation from cell phones, while group B received radiation for less than 15 minutes daily. Group C was exposed to 15 to 30 minutes daily, group D received 31 to 45 minutes of exposure daily, and group E got 46 to 60 minutes of exposure, and all groups participated for 3 months.
The researchers found that the rats exposed to cell phone radiation for more than 15 minutes per day had significantly higher fasting glucose levels and insulin levels compared with the control group. In addition, rats in groups B and E showed significantly increased insulin resistance when compared with controls. Why any of these findings were true has yet to be determined, yet they suggest an association between long-term exposure to cell phone radiation and fasting blood glucose and insulin in rats.
More dangers associated with cell phones
The Environmental Health Trust recently reported on the dangers of radiation from cell and cordless phones, specifically concerning cancer. The authors pointed out that the World Health Organization (WHO) International Agency for Research on Cancer noted that electromagnetic radiation from cell phones and other wireless devices are a “possible human carcinogen,” with brain cancer being the disease most often noted.
In addition, the authors stated that “no other environmental carcinogen has produced evidence of an increased risk in just one decade.” They also warn that “children are indeed more susceptible to the effects of EMF exposure.”
Male fertility also may be in jeopardy among men who carry their cell phones in their pants’ pocket. In the Journal of Endocrinological Investigation, a report noted that prolonged use of a cell phone may have a negative impact on semen quality.
A total of 63 men were divided into four groups: no cell phone use (10), less than 2 hours daily (16), 2 to 4 hours daily (17), and more than 4 hours daily (20). Study investigators also looked at where group D volunteers kept their cell phones (shirt or pant pocket) and evaluated semen samples.
The only differences noted were:
- Men in group D showed a greater percentage of DNA fragmentation among sperm when compared with the other groups
- Men in group D who kept their cell phone in their pants’ pocket showed significant DNA fragmentation
One study has suggested pregnant women should not carry their cell phones near their abdomen because the radiation may have an effect on the fetus. According to one of the study’s authors, Dr. Taylor, “It’s probably safer for a pregnant woman not to carry their cell phone clipped to their belt or sleep with the phone near their abdomen unless it’s turned off.”
The news is not all bad
Every study on cell phone safety has not indicated that mobile phone use is associated with a significant health risk. For example, a new study in the European Journal of Cancer Prevention noted that after a decade of observation, they did not find any significant effect of cell phone use on the development of malignant brain tumors or on death from this condition. The role of cell phone usage in brain tumors is still an area of controversy.
The bottom line
Cell phones are a great tool to assist you in staying in touch, completing goals, and perhaps even providing some entertainment. However, cell phone also may be detrimental to your health, and so users are encouraged to practice restraint and common sense, and to evaluate their relationship with their cell phones to determine if they are healthy and safe.
Aldad TS et al. Fetal radiofrequency radiation exposure from 800-1900 Mhz-rated cellular telephones affects neurodevelopment and behavior in mice. Scientific Reports 2012 Mar 15; 2:312
Davis DL et al. Swedish review strengthens grounds for concluding that radiation from cellular and cordless phones is a probable human carcinogen. Pathophysiology 2013 Apr; 2(2): 123-29
Hsu MH et al. The incidence rate and mortality of malignant brain tumors after 10 years of intensive cell phone use in Taiwan. European Journal of Cancer Prevention 2013 Apr 14
Meo SA, Rubeaan KA. Effects of exposure to electromagnetic field radiation (EMFR) generated by activated mobile phones on fasting blood glucose. International Journal of Occupational Medicine and Environmental Health 2013 Apr; 26(2): 235-41
Rago R et al. The semen quality of the mobile phone users. Journal of Endocrinological Investigation 2013 May 30