Recently, there have been some reports about potential dangers found with cell phone radiation.
About Cell Phone Radiation
The only “legitimate” method used to measure radiation from cell phones is the Specific Absorption Rate or SAR. To test SAR, the amount of radiation is measured at multiple locations and depths of the body and head to see how much radiation is penetrating, with and without the use of safety devices.1 According to Dr. Sanjay Gupta, research takes time, and cellphones have been in regular usage in the US since 1996, but it is unknown if they are safe. Cell phones have non-ionizing radiation, which is different from x-rays, but it does have a heating effect. People use cell phones more often, and they frequently start at a young age. Manufacturers’ manuals often make suggestions about keeping a cell phones a certain distance from the head, such as an inch. They make earpieces to assist with that purpose. Radiation is not always emitted at the same level throughout usage of the phone. It increases when the phone is struggling to find a signal. Dr. Gupta noted that there is a greater risk to children because their “skulls are just thinner” and “children’s brains are more vulnerable”. They are growing up with cell phones, leading to more exposure.2 According to a report on the TODAY show, today’s smartphones have multiple antennas in the phone, and children today will be exposed to more RF (radiofrequency) radiation than any adult. The radiation is “similar to a low-powered microwave oven”. The FCC safety standard to measure SAR, however, was developed decades ago and may be “outdated”. The current standards “do not account for the unique vulnerability and use patterns specific to pregnant women and children”, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Pediatricians are recommending that cellphone use should be limited with children. There are concerns about holding a cell phone directly to the head, in a pocket, or sleeping with it on a pillow. “Distance is your friend”, so the suggestions made are that cellphone users should utilize the speakerphone or an earpiece.3
Are Cell Phones Dangerous?
There is still some debate in the medical community about the dangers of cell phones. The American Academy of Pediatrics asked that the FCC adopt radiation standards that would protect children more, and to require disclosure to consumers that is meaningful, regarding the radiation. There are scientists who have looked at the links between cellphones and brain tumors, cancers, infertility and autism, but most major US health organizations maintain that “no harmful health effects have been proven”. While x-rays, with ionizing radiation, have been proven to increase cancer risk, the National Cancer Institute states that “there is currently no evidence that non-ionizing radiation [from cellphones] increases cancer risk.” However, that does not tell the entire story. RF energy does have a biological effect of heating. Although heating does not damage DNA, believed necessary for cancer to develop, a recent study did find that the closer RF was to the skin, the greater the damage was to underlying cells. In fact, “radiation increased reactive oxygen species (ROS), which impairs the ability of cells to repair themselves”, and that has “been proven to contribute to cancer development”. Even though the American Cancer Society says the evidence is uncertain and needs more study, it still recommends people limit their exposure. The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer, IARC, has classified the RF from products such as cell phones as “possibly carcinogenic to humans”.4 CNET recently looked in cell phone radiation levels and discussed the phones with the highest levels. For phones to be sold in the US, the “maximum Specific Absorption Rate, or SAR level must be less than 1.6 watts per kilogram”, per the FCC.5 There is also a cellphone radiation chart available to see the models and radiation levels of popular models.6
Can Cell Phones Cause Cancer?
A frequently asked question is, “Do cellphones cause cancer?” In fact, in the last couple of years, there were more documented breast cancer, brain tumor, memory loss, and dementia cases linked to the radiation of cell phones. The World Health Organization has put cell phone radiation in the same category as mercury and lead. “A new documentary film called “Mobilize” features a slew of well-known and respected industry and political insiders who believe the health hazards of cell phone radiation are worse than we think.”7 According to the International Journal of Oncology, mobile phone radiation should be considered as a “probably human carcinogen” and it “causes brain tumors”. Wireless types of devices use RF-EMF, or radiofrequency electromagnetic fields, and these have been consistent with increased risk of brain tumors. Researchers Morgan, Miller, Sasco, and Davis advise that the ALARA principle (“as low as reasonably achievable”) should be applied to wireless devices, in terms of usage.8 Keeping a phone in a bra may be unsafe. Dr. John West has becomes convinced that “there’s a connection between cellphone radiation and breast cancer”. One patient had a mammogram that showed a “distribution of cancer that corresponded exactly to the size and shape…of her cellphone”. West and colleagues published a case study of four women under 40, who kept their phones in their bras (and tested negative for the BRCA gene mutations), and developed “multifocal invasive breast cancer”.9
Cell Phone Radiation Protection
The FCC made original radiation guidelines for cellphones based on users carrying them in a holster or a belt clip, a small distance from the body, but users today keep phones frequently in pockets, leading to a higher radiation exposure. The FCC now suggests that an earpiece, headset, or speakerphone, and texting instead of talking can reduce the RF exposure.10 Berkeley, California has promoted the idea that cell phones should have warning stickers due to the phone radiation. They recently passed the first ordinance of a “right to know” law to make sure that cellphones have health warnings. Other states are also considering warnings. Consumers are informed of the separation distance needed between the body and the cell phone. The FCC suggests that the phone is kept “5 to 25 millimeters away, depending on the model” to reduce the exposure to RF. The risk is greater for children. Keeping a phone in a pants or shirt pocket when it is on and using wireless networks may exceed the RF radiation exposure guidelines.11 There is a product on the market to help combat cell phone radiation: Erchonia’s R2LTM (Radiation-to-LightTM). According to the manufacturer, “R2LTM…(is) the only product proven to reduce your exposure to cell phone radiation up to 70%,” and it does not interrupt phone quality. It works by “using its unique antenna near the broadcasting and receiving antenna in the cell phone”. The radiation is converted through the R2LTM antenna into “direct current electricity”, and then that electricity is driven into the LED, to “light it up and disperse the power safely”.12 The R2LTM devices are placed in specific positions based on the cell phone or mobile product. The product’s website gives directions on usage for various popular phones and tablets.13 The manufacturer also provides video instruction on how to place the R2LTM on the cell phone so that is works most effectively.14
1, 7, 12 http://www.r2l.com/