Some people think Senator Kennedy’s cellphone caused it.
He was diagnosed last year with a malignant “glioma,” a kind of brain cancer specifically considered a risk for cellphone users.
Should you be worried?
The truth is, cellphones have not been around long enough to give us the kind of long-term studies we really need to know for sure.
And the research is conflicting. Some studies show no increased risk. So I’m not ready to tell my readers and patients that cellphones definitely cause cancer. The FDA says, “The available scientific evidence does not show that any health problems are associated with using wireless phones.” But they then add, “There is no proof, however, that wireless phones are absolutely safe.”
Some of the most up-to-date research suggests that there is some cause for concern. Here’s what I know:
• Researchers in Israel found last year that people who used cellphones heavily experienced a 58 percent increase in “parotid tumors” – a cancer of the saliva gland near the ear.
• Another study last year, this one out of Sweden, concluded that cellphone users are 10 times more likely to develop benign cancers of the ear and brain.
• Several animal studies have found that the kind of radiation cellphones use can damage DNA in brain cells. Damaged DNA is one of the things that can turn healthy cells into cancer cells.
Cellphones use microwaves called “radio frequency radiation” (RF) to transmit signals. Their antennae emit most of the RF, and since you’re holding the phone right next to your ear most of the time, a lot of it penetrates the brain – as much as 60 percent, according to some studies.
Depending on the size of your head and the amount of radiation coming from the specific type of phone you use, you may be literally “cooking” your brain. RF energy can potentially cause the temperature of your brain tissue to rise slightly.
To protect yourself from any potential risk from cellphone RF, here are a few guidelines:
• Keep cellphone calls short.
• Go with a “hands-free” headset or a speakerphone. These keep the cellphone from direct contact with your head.
• Don’t carry your cellphone in your chest or hip pocket. Even when in “standby” mode, cellphones continue to emit radiation, exposing whichever part of your body is closest.
• When using a hands-free headset, let the wire extend fully between your head and the phone. This distributes RF in small amounts along the length of your body rather than concentrating it in any one location.
• Look for a phone with “voice-activated” features. These enable you to place calls and perform other commands without having to hold the phone close to your head.
• Use a standard “land line” whenever possible.
• Find out the level of RF emissions for your cellphone. If the level is high, replace the phone.
Cellphones come with emissions ratings known as “SARs” (specific absorption rates). These range from 0.5 to 1.6 W/kg (watts of power absorbed per kilogram of body tissue). Avoid any cellphone that falls within range of that upper limit.
The FDA provides SAR ratings for most kinds of cellphones and other wireless devices online. You’ll need to locate your cellphone’s FCC ID number, which is usually located somewhere on the case of the phone or in the battery compartment.
Meanwhile, my Wellness Research team’s tracked down the SAR ratings for some commonly used cellphones:
|Blackberry 8100 Pearl||1.52|
|Kyocera KX1 (SoHo)||0.99|
|Palm Treo 600||1.43|
|Palm Treo 650 CDMA||1.5|
|Sony Ericsson A1228C||1.34|
|Sony Ericsson K600i||0.5|
|Sprint PM 8912||1.27|
Don’t wait for proof positive that cellphone use can harm you. Using my guidelines, take steps right now to protect yourself.[Ed. Note: Dr. Sears is a practicing physician and the author of The Doctor’s Heart Cure. He is also a nutrition expert, a fitness expert, and is board certified by the American Board of Anti-Aging Medicine. Find Dr. Sears’s practical solutions and get immediate access to more than 500 of his articles by visiting http://www.alsearsmd.com/ETR/]