It is no secret that we depend more on our phones than ever before. Many of us stay connected to our mobile devices 24/7. We use them not only as a means of communication, but to perform many daily tasks such as paying bills, obtaining news, entertainment, shopping and so on. So are they really a danger to our health?
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Cell phones emit radio frequency energy (radio waves), a form of non-ionizing radiation. Tissues nearest to where the phone is held can absorb this energy. Radio frequency energy is linked to certain forms of cancer. This is the same form emitted from microwave ovens and radar. Unlike the ionized radiation used in x-ray machines, which is known to cause cancer, the research regarding non-iodized radiation being a cause of cancer has been inconclusive. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has recently classified radio frequency fields as “possibly carcinogenic to humans.” However the American Cancer Society (ACS) states that the evidence is not strong enough to be considered causal and needs to be investigated further.
Radiation from cell phones is not only associated with cancer but also with chronic diseases like heart problems. A study published in European Journal of Oncology, published that radiations emitted by cordless phones, including mobiles, contribute to abnormalities in heart function. Results reported that radiation causes the red blood cells to seep hemoglobin and that can lead to heart complications.
How do we protect ourselves?
The number of cell phone users has increased dramatically in the last five years. As of 2010, there were more than 303 million subscribers to cell phone service in the United States, according to the Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association. This is a nearly threefold increase from the 110 million users in 2000. Globally, the number of cell phone subscriptions is estimated by the International Telecommunications Union to be 5 billion.
Because the data on the risks of cell phone use is still in its initial stages, and cell phone technology changes very rapidly, medical organizations recommend overall caution. They recommend that we maintain a distance between our bodies and our mobile device of at least 20 inches at all times to avoid skin contact. They also recommend using a head set at all times if possible. The last recommendation is to simply limit your exposure especially when it comes to our leisurely use of our mobile device. Progress and innovation will continue, but like in most cases we need to protect our health, which in the end is our most precious asset.