About nine out of 10 US households now have at least one cell phone and that 1 doesn't include other wireless devices, such as cordless phones, iPads, baby monitors and computers.

Result: The average aulull (and child) is flooded with nonionizing radiation, a form of energy that-for the first time-has been officially linked to cancer. In May 2011, a panel of the World Health Organization (WHO) listed cell phones as a class 2b carcinogen, which means that it's possible that cell phones, like some industrial chemicals, increase the risk for cancer.

This conclusion has been disputed by many scientists. But careful analysis of the best studies to date indicate that people who log the most cell-phone minutes are more likely to develop tumors on the same side of the head that they hold the cell phone, compared with those who use cell phones less often.

Disturbing Research

The largest study of cell-phone use, known as INTERPHONE, was conducted in 13 countries over a 10-year period. The study, published in the International Journal of Epidemiology, found that people who used cell phones for at least 1,640 hours over the 10-year period—that comes to about 30 minutes a day-had a 40% higher risk of developing a glioma, a deadly type of brain tumor.

Disturbing: The development of a brain tumor to the point that it can be detected often takes 20 to 30 years. The fact that these tumors are showing up after 10 years of exposure is disturbing because it is much faster than expected.

Previous studies have linked frequent or prolonged cell-phone use to an increase in parotid (salivary gland) and auditory nerve tumors.

The actual risk probably is higher than the studies indicate. The INTERPHONE study defined "heavy use" as using a cell phone for about 30 minutes a day. That's a fraction of the time that many people currently spend on their cell phones.

Also, the study looked only at adults, even though young people are frequent users of cell phones and the ones who face the highest cancer risks from decades of radiation exposure.

In addition, the study "diluted" the data by identifying people as regular cell phone users who may have used their phones only once a week for at least six months. These light users were obviously exposed to far less radiation than heavy users. Including them in the study caused the cancer percentages to appear artificially low. For example, we would not expect someone who smoked one cigarette a week for at least six months to develop lung cancer.

Safer Use

Skeptics of cell-phone dangers argue that non-ionizing radiation is too weak to heat tissues or break chemical bonds, factors that are known to increase cancer risks. But recent studies indicate damage to DNA in rat brains exposed to cell phone radiation, and this type of damage can lead to cancer.

Ways to stay safe…

  • Hold the phone away from your ear. The fine print in cell-phone manuals usually advises users to hold the phone at leasts of an inch away from the ear. Farther is better. Use speakerphone mode
  • Wait for good reception. Cell phones emit much higher levels of radiation when the antenna is sending out signals to search for a tower or satellite. These signals can travel hundreds of miles-and the poorer the reception, the greater the radiation emitted by your cell phone.
  • Use a hollow-tube headset. This is the safest type of headset because the last few inches, those closest to the ear, consist of a hollow tube. This hollow tube transmits sound like a stethoscope. Wired headsets need to be kept away from the body because the continuous wire that runs from the phone to the earpiece will expose you to some unnecessary radiation. Hollow-tube headsets (Blue Tube) can be purchased at www.mercola.com.
  • Use "airplane mode." Even when you're not talking on a cell phone, the phone is sending out signals every few minutes to search for the nearest tower. Turn off the phone when you're not using it. Or switch it to airplane mode so that it can't send or receive signals, but you still can use the phone to listen to music, watch videos and check your calendar.
  • Keep the phone on your desk when working. When the phone is switched on, don't keep it in your pocket or attached to your belt. This is particularly important for men. Preliminary research indicates that men who keep their phones close to their bodies (often in holsters or pockets) have lower sperm counts and poorer sperm quality than those without this exposure.

Caution: The worst way to use a Bluetooth wireless headset is to place it on your ear with the cell phone in your pocket. This way, your head and lower body are both being irradiated. A better way to use a Bluetooth is to keep the cell phone on a table several feet away from all body parts and to periodically move the earpiece from one ear to the other to minimize one-side radiation exposure.

  • Text instead of talk. There's a burst of radiation when you send or receive a text message, but the intensity and duration of the radiation are lower than when you talk. Texting is a better alternative to talking on your cell phone, but keep the phone as far away from your body as possible. Normal clothing, including leather, will not reduce your exposure.
  • Don't use your phone in a car, train or bus. Using a cell phone inside a metal vehicle can increase levels of radiation due to reflection and the fact that your cell-phone signal has to be higher to exit the vehicle. The best practice is to keep the phone off or in airplane mode and to check it periodically for messages. Then return messages by text or use a landline phone later.

Cell-Phone Radiation Bad for Bones

Researchers examined the bones of 48 healthy Imen who carried cell phones.

Result: Men who carried cell phones on their hips were more likely to have lower mineral content and density in the upper thigh bones where the phones were placed.

Theory: Over time, the low levels of electromagnetic radiation emitted by cell phones appear to degrade the bone in the hip.

Self-defense: Avoid carrying your cell phone against any part of your body.

Want to Keep Reading?

Continue reading with a Health Confidential membership.

Sign up now Already have an account? Sign in