Cell Phones: Handy Accessory or Harmful Appliance?

There are countless studies on exactly how cell phones affect our brains. Some studies say that they cause an increase in brain tumors while others say that they have no effect at all. How is the average person supposed to sort it all out so that we can tell if we’re walking straight into an early grave? In order to be sure we’re receiving the best information, it’s easiest to start with the facts.

Cell phones emit non-ionizing radiation, says John Sedat, professor at University of California, San Francisco. These are waves of energy that are supposedly not strong enough to break the chemical bonds within cells or to cause the DNA damage known to cause cancer. However, using cell phones does increase brain activity when they are in use, according to recent findings by the National Institutes of Health. Researchers found that the brain’s neurons nearest to the cell phone antenna increased their activity by seven percent according to The Week. So what does that mean for long-term effects? After all, it’s a little suspicious that Steve Jobs personally rejected an app that would monitor radiation emissions. The actual email was posted by Tawkon, the app’s creator, on the IEEE Spectrum. If cell phone companies really didn’t have anything to hide, then they would have no need to prohibit such an app.

Recently, the World Health Organization completed the Interphone Study, which took place over 10 years. The study concluded that there is a connection between the growth of cancer cells and the use of mobile phones. The Occupational and Environmental Medicine journal reported that there was twice the likelihood of developing cancer after just ten years of cell phone use. But in an article in USA Weekend, researchers agreed that it can take up to 30 years to see the full effects of exposure to cell phone radiation.

Even though scientists are not sure of all of the effects, they agree that children are at a higher risk than adults. Children have thinner skulls and their brains are still developing. They will be exposed for a longer period of time and at heavier levels than previous generations as society becomes more dependent on technology. With this in mind, The Nation reported that some countries are considering laws that prohibit children under 12 from using mobile phones. When asked about the significance of such a law, a McDaniel junior responded, “If the government was worried enough to ban kids from using phones, then clearly they believe there is a negative effect of cell phones and haven’t appropriately warned me.”

Perhaps it’s best to proceed with caution. Here are four things you can do to protect yourself:

• Use land lines whenever possible. Although corded phones are typically seen as tacky by our generation, they cause the least harm. Cordless phones produce more emissions than corded phones but less than cell phones.

• Place distance between your cell phone and your brain. Texting is much better as it doesn’t expose your brain to as much radiation. Also, using speakerphone allows you to still talk while your phone is away from your brain.

• Try to stay in range of your cell towers. The more bars, the better. Fewer bars mean that your cell phone uses more energy to get a better signal, emitting more radio waves in the process.

• Keep your cell phone charged. Some cell phones with low battery have been shown to use more energy, emitting more radiation.