Saturday, January 20, 2007

Another cell phone study

No strong associations between low levels of cell (mobile) phone use and cancer have been discovered thus far. However, from what I understand, the past studies have not shown this conclusively for all cases. This is not surprising - remember that there are many, many variables involved and they all have to be investigated properly before being able to authoritatively claim that there is no association at all.

This Times (UK) article gives a brief summary of some past findings and tells of a new study that will focus on long term users. The interest from an audio perspective is some evidence that prolonged use holding the cell phone to the ear (instead of using an wired ear bud or handsfree) may be associated with acoustic neuroma brain tumors.

From my own personal experience, I believe that I can objectively claim to perceive a significant difference, after approximately ten minutes of use, between having my mobile phone with the phone pressed against my ear and using it in handsfree mode away from my ear. This does not say that I am going to get cancer, but it does contradict, at least in my isolated case, the written claims that mobile phone use could not possibly affect human tissue in any perceivable manner.

This is a controversial area of research and, in my opinion, requires careful study and careful reporting to balance convenience, health, and other issues properly.


a.a said...

I used to be worried about keeping the mobile in the front pocket of my jeans, for obvious reasons. I think I should restart getting worried ;).

Keith said...

Now that you mention it, there was a study that was published in the last six months or so concerning the effect of mobile phones on male fertility.

At the time, I was taken aback by a quote from a scientifically trained individual (I forget who) that had been reached for a comment by the reporter. He said, and I'm paraphrasing here, that the study's conclusions must be invalid because the phones were normally held to the ear and the testes were much lower and so no physical connection could be made.

When I read this I figured that he had not taken into account your comment (about wearing the phone in your jeans, which are much closer to the organ in question) nor the fact that the amount of energy that the mobile phone emits is greatest during the beginning of the "call" (i.e. during "set up" when the phone is trying to tell the cell tower that "I am here!"). That is a lot of energy to be emitted into a sensitive type of soft body tissue (i.e. having lots of water, which absorbs RF energy fairly well).

Alli said...

What about in the case of women? Would carrying the phone in the front pocket also affect fertility and be possibly dangerous?

Keith said...

Hmmm... good question. Let me start off by saying that I am not a doctor so my comments should not be taken as medical advice.

That being said, let's look at the situation objectively. The female anatomy differs in some very important respects from the male anatomy, particularly when it comes to the reproductive organs. The male testes are much closer to the surface of the body than the female ovaries (where the eggs are stored). Therefore, any electromagnetic radiation would have to penetrate further into a human body to get to the eggs, at least while they are in the ovaries. I'm not saying that this means the energy can not make it to the ovaries, but it makes sense that the level at least would be significantly reduced, in comparison to the level that would reach the testes.

There are other complicating factors, of course. One is that the eggs travel out of the ovaries prior to being inseminated, which might expose them to higher amounts of radiation over the course of the few days that this occurs. That being said, at all points of the egg's journey up to insemination, the location is still much further into the body than a male's testes.

Next thing to consider - time of exposure. I made the point of stating that an egg was out of its ovary for a few days prior to insemination. One thing that might need to be studied is the effect of NINE MONTHS of daily low level (due to the attenuation by the body of the cell phone signal) during pregnancy. I have no idea whether it would be dangerous to the mother or the developing child, but to me, a safe approach (at least until careful studies are made and then their results confirmed by others) would be to minimize possible exposure.

Given that we don't know if it is instantaneous exposure (from the high strength signal that is broadcast during the beginning of the call when it is dialing and trying to set up the connection) or accumulated exposure, from carrying it around constantly, if it were me, I would avoid carrying a cell phone in my pants pockets and holding anywhere near my abdomen while it was dialing/connecting. Maybe this is overkill and maybe it is not sufficient for safety - no one knows as far as I am aware. Until studies are done, all we can use is our common sense!

So, in closing, again, I am not a medical doctor and therefore my opinions are exactly that - opinions. If you are concerned abou this, I encourage you to do more research into the matter, using scientific resources (studies, doctors, etc). If you find out anything, please let us know.
Good luck,

Allison said...

Everything I found did support the idea that cell phone radiation did affect the male reproductive system. One interesting article I found called, "Disadvantages of Cell Phones," stated that the radiation from cell phones altered the DNA in healthy sperm and that the altered DNA can't be fixed in the female reproductive system because of the location of the alterations. These mutated sperm has been shown to increase the chances of mental diseases, cancer, and birth defects.

I did find quite a few studies stating that the female reproductive system is also affected by cell phone radiation, but they did not specify what the effects were. Apparently, men need to worry a lot more than women, but I won't just forget about it.

Keith said...

Hi Allison,
If you found any particularly interesting sources in your research and would like to share them, I know that I for one would be really interested in seeing them, particularly if they are are peer-reviewed studies themselves or make use of such good quality data.

I'm really enjoying your insights and enthusiasm for the subject.

Allison said...

I wasn't able to re-find all the articles I read and in the course of a few days, I actually discovered more articles that are very interesting, including one study that found that cell phone radiation did not affect the testes. (I don't know how exactly to post links, so you can just click on them, so maybe this will work.)

The last two were found on, which has a good number of articles on the subject, including some about the affects of the radiation on chicken embryos. I just searched cell phone radiation + reproductive.