Cell Phones As Risky As DDT and Engine Exhaust

cell phones cancer WHO reportSome tips for preventing possible cell-phone cancer link.

The United Nations health arm, the World Health Organization (WHO) has taken a pretty bold move listing cell phone use, and the radiation it emits as dangerous as DDT in pesticides, and as risky as the cancers that can be caused by vehicle exhaust fumes.

While it is very hard to point out any causal link to cell phone use and cancer, since cancer is a complicated disease and there are many types of cancer, not to mention it takes years to develop, the WHO is pretty much convinced of the link, and is building a plan based on dozens of different studies. A report in the medical journal, The Lancet is expected later this summer. What are some tips to talking safe?

I personally interviewed one of the foremost experts on cell phone use and the link to cancer, Dr. Sigal Sadetzki in Israel who took her findings to Congress in the United States. Israel is a particularly meaningful group for study purposes, because while the rest of the world was still using landlines every Israeli and their pet was connected to a cell phone network. People in Israel buy them for their kids, and are known to be very heavy users. This makes Israeli case studies on cell phones and cancer particularly important.

Speaking with Fox News once, the producer of a show once asked me if Sadetzki¬† had done any research on Americans, because that’s what Americans want to know. I tried explain with no luck, that Israelis have the same brain matter (more or less), glands, tissues, and susceptibility to cancer as Americans would. Yet Fox wanted proof on American soil. Will this new WHO report be convincing enough to the world?

The Israeli newspaper Haaretz (no link found) has reported the news released by WHO. The new WHO report lists cell phones in a risk factor B2, meaning they are possibly carcinogenic. An Israeli health board is also considering implementing legislation that will limit cell phone use to those under 14, those whose tissues are growing rapidly and which are susceptible to DNA damage.

I personally refrain from using a cell phone for long calls, and use a headset (not Bluetooth) when I must use the phone. I do so not only for the cell phone cancer link but because I find cell phone companies repugnant in their customer service and monopolies, and the quality of conversation on landlines is much better. For similar reasons, I usually choose landlines over the free calls of Skype, especially when I am abroad and can avoid the really extortionately high fees charged for phone calls by hotels.

Other recommendations from Sadetzki are (or were a couple of years ago):

1. Parents should limit the time their kids use cell phones or hands-free devices

2. Calls, especially made by children should be limited in time

3. Cell phones should never be carried touching the body, like in a pocket where radiation while it’s communicating with the base station, can be transmitted to the body

4. Cells phones shouldn’t be recharged near your bed or sleeping/resting quarters

5. Use a headset when talking on cell phone

6. Limit use in rural areas, because the radiation levels can be higher, the more spaced out antennas are in your network

There is to be a summary of the panel’s findings at the WHO website and published in the July 1 issue of the journal Lancet Oncology.

Cell phones have become such an important element in our life, not just for calling your honey at home when you are out buying groceries. For many young people in the western world it is their only connection – they no longer subscribe to landlines; and for a major percentage of the world’s population, it is the only way they access the Internet.

Maybe the next question is how to make cell phones less dangerous.

Above image via pinksherbert

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