Medicine to Move You

Cell phones are here to stay and we knew it the moment we laid hands on our first mobile communication superstar back in the early 1990s.  Technology has come a long way from the remote control sized cell phone and getting in touch with someone never seemed so easy.  But with everything that society considers progress, there’s always a part of me wondering…’What is the price our bodies are paying for this convenience?’  There’s always a catch, right?   Well, lend me your ears for this recent research article.

According to the Center on Media and Child Health, 60 percent of children ages 10 to 14 use cell phones. Amongst high school students in the 15 to 18 age group, 85 percent pack cell phones and they aren’t afraid to use them.   And in case your second grader asks you for a cell phone, don’t be surprised when she reports that 22  percent of grade schoolers 9 and younger own cell phones as well.

Cell phones use radio frequency which release a small amount of electromagnetic radiation with every use.  According to calculations published in the July 2008 issue of “Physics in Medicine and Biology” by Joe Wiart’s research group at France Telecom, “The brains of young children absorb twice as much radio frequency energy from a cell phone as those of adults.”  Hmmm.  The obvious question focused on the impact of cell phone use on our beloved kids’ brains.

So, it was a relief when a recent study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute (2011;103:1264-1276), reported that children and adolescents who use cell phones are NOT at an increased risk for brain tumors.  But don’t sigh yet.  Here’s where the story gets a little more soap opera-esque.   Several experts in the field of environmental medicine are disputing these findings.  L. Lloyd Morgan, BSc, senior research fellow at the Environmental Health Trust and coauthors Ronald Herberman, MD, director of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute and the UPMC Cancer Center, in Pennsylvania, and Debra Davis, PhD, MPH, president of Environmental Health Trust, note that the study’s results are flawed and mislead the public. They explain that these errors should have been picked up during the peer-review process and by the journal.  Why?  Because the results and conclusion sections of the paper actually contradict the reported results.  In English, there were errors in the science experiment process; so, the results don’t really count.  They stated that the Journal of the National Cancer Institute should have picked these errors up before publishing this article and giving a false sense of security to all of us.

This next point may not be a surprise to you conspiracy theorists but, several cell phone companies provided funding for this study.  Some of the study’s authors are known to be linked to the industry and to other research that supports the interests of the industry.  Another expert, Joel Moskowitz, PhD, director of the Center for Family and Community Health at the University of California, Berkeley, also stated that “the results actually verify higher tumor risks for children but the findings are downplayed. They dismiss any evidence or prior evidence of increased risk and harm, and then the media plays it out as either being not conclusive evidence or no evidence.”

Dr. Davis also emphasized that aside from brain tumors, other studies have linked cell phones to serious health risks in children, including learning problems, autism, behavioral impacts, insomnia, attention disorders, and a broad array of disturbances to the developing nervous system.  So, even though there are no studies that definitively prove that cell phones cause health problems, there is enough evidence building that we might proceed with caution the next time we put one to our ears.  Knowing that it can take nearly 10 years of daily electromagnetic radiation (EMR) exposure to cause a brain tumor and that we get EMR from many other modern day ‘appliances’ in our lives, are we just sitting ducks?  About a dozen countries have taken precautionary steps, so it would “not be radical for the United States government to do so as well,” Dr. Davis said. No one is suggesting that we give up cell phones, “but there are ways to reduce the risk.”

Call me ‘old school’ but by their increasing use of cell phones and texting, our children are slowly losing the concept of hanging out, chatting on the front stoop or veranda, taking it easy and taking it all in… slowly, naturally and healthfully.  I bet the full body benefits of two people chatting face-to-face, eye-to eye, heart-to-heart and exchanging robust laughter over shared experiences does so much more for the mind, body and spirit than those 2 same people will ever be able to capture sending a LOL text… and with less electromagnetic radiation!

Quick tip:  Consider using earbuds in order to get the cell phone’s EMR further away from your brain and ears.  It can reduce your risks, free up your hands, and help prevent neck strain.  Of course, think about any ways you can reduce excessive cell phone use and get back to sharing your positive energy… up close and personal!

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