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Ear to the Ground

Step Away From Your Cellphone! It May Be Killing You

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Posted on Apr 14, 2014

Johnathan Lyman (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)


According to an excerpt from “Overpowered: What Science Tells Us About the Dangers of Cell Phones and Other Wifi-Age Devices” by Martin Blank, we’re all unwittingly participating in what’s been called “the largest biological experiment ever.” Science has shown that the electromagnetic fields generated by our cellphones (you know, those things you place next to your head, hands and vital organs on a regular basis) have an impact on “living beings” and have been proven to “[damage and cause] mutations in DNA.” 

The question remains, however, how the effects of extended exposure to electromagnetic fields will manifest themselves. Although we won’t know the answer for years, Blank believes it’s crucial to be aware of possible side effects in the here and now and minimize the time we spend attached to our phones.

Salon:

The science to date about the bioeffects (biological and health outcomes) resulting from exposure to EM radiation is still in its early stages. We cannot yet predict that a specific type of EMF exposure (such as 20 minutes of cell phone use each day for 10 years) will lead to a specific health outcome (such as cancer). Nor are scientists able to define what constitutes a “safe” level of EMF exposure.

However, while science has not yet answered all of our questions, it has determined one fact very clearly—all electromagnetic radiation impacts living beings. As I will discuss, science demonstrates a wide range of bioeffects linked to EMF exposure. For instance, numerous studies have found that EMF damages and causes mutations in DNA—the genetic material that defines us as individuals and collectively as a species. Mutations in DNA are believed to be the initiating steps in the development of cancers, and it is the association of cancers with exposure to EMF that has led to calls for revising safety standards. This type of DNA damage is seen at levels of EMF exposure equivalent to those resulting from typical cell phone use.

The damage to DNA caused by EMF exposure is believed to be one of the mechanisms by which EMF exposure leads to negative health effects. Multiple separate studies indicate significantly increased risk (up to two and three times normal risk) of developing certain types of brain tumors following EMF exposure from cell phones over a period of many years. One review that averaged the data across 16 studies found that the risk of developing a tumor on the same side of the head as the cell phone is used is elevated 240% for those who regularly use cell phones for 10 years or more. An Israeli study found that people who use cell phones at least 22 hours a month are 50% more likely to develop cancers of the salivary gland (and there has been a four-fold increase in the incidence of these types of tumors in Israel between 1970 and 2006). And individuals who lived within 400 meters of a cell phone transmission tower for 10 years or more were found to have a rate of cancer three times higher than those living at a greater distance. Indeed, the World Health Organization (WHO) designated EMF—including power frequencies and radio frequencies—as a possible cause of cancer.

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—Posted by Natasha Hakimi Zapata

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