In a landmark long-term study, the World Health Organization (WHO) is about to announce that long-term cell phone use is linked to a higher risk of developing brain cancer.
An announcement is expected by the end of the year along with a public health message, despite years of reassurances by the cell phone industry to the contrary.
The WHO survey included 13,000 people in 13 countries. Among those who used cell phones for a decade or longer the researchers found a “significantly increased risk” of brain tumors.
The head of the study, Elisabeth Cardis recommends that cell phone use by children should be restricted, she told the Telegraph, though not banned entirely because they are an important link between children and parents.
Adults need to use hands-free kits and wireless ear devices, the study recommends, though a wireless head set acts as an antenna bringing radiofrequency radiation near the brain.
In 1996, the WHO established the International Electromagnetic Fields Project to investigate the link between technologies emitting extremely low-frequency electric and magnetic fields and human health.
The fields exist wherever electric current flows from power lines and cables, residential wiring and electrical appliances. Much of the research examining long-term risks has focused on childhood leukemia. Evidence is difficult to gather and so far is not considered strong enough to be considered causal.
There were an estimated 49,000 new cases of childhood leukemia worldwide in the year 2000.
The $30 million study results will be officially published before the year’s end.
Emerging reports, some anecdotal, from 20 groups have reportedly endorsed advice that there may be an increased risk of cancer among the heaviest users for one type of brain tumor. Authorities in England, France and India have cautioned against the use of cell phones by children.
While the experts debate the merits of the radiation controversy, there are ways you can reduce your specific absorption rate or SAR.
The Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association reports for a phone to pass FCC certification to be sold in the U.S. its maximum SAR level must be less than 1.6 watts per kilogram. In Europe, the level is capped at 2 watts.
Earlier this year, CNN talked to many physicists, engineers and doctors who agreed that cell phones do emit radiation. They recommend ways to limit any potential damage from cell phones near your head:
- USE THE SPEAKERPHONE - is the most repeated recommendation of experts. A foot or two is ideal for holding the cell phone away from your head and body. Radiation apparently reduces very quickly. Four inches away and it drops by a factor of 16.
- USE A FERRITE BEAD - if you’ve always been amused by those people who seem to be schizophrenic, walking and talking to themselves until you saw the little mouthpiece on their face, it turns out they may have been right. And a ferrite bead is a clip that you put on the wire of the headset to minimize the radiation coming from the wire toward your ear. The inexpensive bead absorbs the radiation. With the bead it’s hard to even measure the radiation coming off the wire. Following this reasoning, do not put the phone in your pocket or clipped to your belt or you will be radiating your body.
- BLUETOOTH - while the technology still emits radiation, it’s reported to be at least 100 times less than when you hold the phone to your head. But you are warned against wearing it when you are not talking because it still sends out a signal. Some people prefer Bluetooth to a wired headset, but the fact that you wear it all the time creates the problem. One alternative- switch it from ear to ear.
- HOLLOW TUBE EARPIECE - Similar to a wired earpiece except the last six inches or so is a hollow tube without the wire under the plastic. You are not receiving radiofrequency waves. Purchase these online.
- PHONE WITH LESS RADIATION - Are available and they are measures for their radiation output. Check for the specific absorption rate, or SAR. CNET.com has a listing. #