Friday, June 24, 2011

As It Stands turns back the clock to 2009 when I warned readers about suspected cell phone health risks

 The subject of harmful effects from using cell phones has recently been in the news. Two years ago I wrote about them and got a divided response; some people thought I was crazy, and others agreed problems could exist.

Has anything changed since I wrote this column? Sadly, there’s very little progress to report.

On March 31st of this year CNN reported radiation from cell phones can possibly cause cancer, according to the World Health Organization. The agency now lists mobile phone use in the same "carcinogenic hazard" category as lead, engine exhaust and chloroform.

June 7, 2009

   By Dave Stancliff/For The Times-Standard

It always troubles me when people get sick, or even die, from a product that hasn't been thoroughly tested.

You see that kind of thing often in the pharmaceutical market. Big companies are more concerned about releasing new products to make a profit than they are about the long-term effects these products may have.
Despite the Food and Drug Administrations (FDA) efforts, the practice of releasing products to the public before their long-term effects have been thoroughly studied, continues to this day.
Take cell phones for example. The FDA's Center for Devices and Radiological Health (CDRH) is supposed to make sure that radiation-emitting products, such as microwave ovens, TV sets, cell phones, and laser products meet radiation standards.
According to the CDRH Website ( “the center monitors devices throughout the product life cycle, including a nationwide post-market surveillance system.” If that's the case, why are the FDA's only studies relatively short term, with absolutely no data available on the consequences of childhood exposure to cell phones?
The majority of published data has been concentrated on a small number of outcomes, especially brain tumors and leukemia. Recently, there have been some studies of residential exposure to radio and television, that have focused on leukemia.
There have also been studies of cell phone users, particularly for brain tumors and less often cancers or other symptoms. These studies have shown no consistent or convincing evidence of adverse health effects from radio frequency field (RFs) exposure, according to the FDA. Not everyone agrees.
Critics of these limited studies point out that they are too deficient to rule out an association. The fact is that very little is known about new technologies using RFs. There haven't been any definitive population studies, but other statistics indicate concerns about cell phones being dangerous to one's health.
Recent statistics show that more than 30 percent of children under 13 years of age in the U.S. own their own cell phones. One-out-of-two American teenagers have their own cell phones. By next year, even more of those populations will get cell phones.
Why? Cell phones are getting cheaper every day. We like being connected to our children at all times. and, let's face it, a cell phone is nice to have in case of an emergency. Warning signals can be seen in current studies that indicate negative effects from electromagnetic fields and radio frequency radiation.
The head of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, Dr. Ronald B. Herberman, recently told reporters there is a clear possibility of a direct relationship between cell phones use and the risk of cancer.
Worldwide, health researchers are taking a harder look into the adverse effects of constant cell phone use. International findings suggest that, if nothing is done about the matter, we may see an epidemic of brain cancer among the planet's youth.
Studies have shown significant correlation between electromagnetic radiation on our cells and our DNA. These studies also show that children are at the greatest risk to radiation damage because their brains are still developing and skulls are very thin.
Evidence is building that shows extreme low frequency (ELF) waves may not only be related to cancer, but may speed up the aging process, increase anxiety, depression, anger, and irritability.
A study by Dr. Neil Cherry, of Lincoln University in New Zealand, suggests that exposure to ELF waves alters calcium ions in our cells. Dr. Cherry's contention is that cell phone use may alter the delicate melatonin/serotonin balance in the brain, which would explain mood disorders and sleep problems.
I could cite other studies, but I hope you get my point. The FDA is lagging behind in studying adverse cell phones effects. So we won't hear from them soon, if ever. Until more is known about prolonged cell phone usage, we should encourage young people to use them less often or not hold them as close to their ears. I know that's easier said than done.
But what if your child comes down with brain cancer some day? Then it will be too late to do anything. At least now you can err on the side of caution.
As It Stands, technology brings benefits, but it also can bring grief if we don't fully understand it.

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