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Cell phones have long surpassed being a just a device to make calls and receive messages. Our dependency on its numerous features has got us enslaved. Today, almost all of us can’t survive without our indispensable communication gadget. And it has gone a step further, whether single or not, mobile phones have becoming a sleeping companion to people globally. There’s hardly any of us who goes to bed without it. Despite health warnings of radiation, we still keep it next to our faces near the pillow or at the most, within an arm’s reach on the bed side table. Well, it’s time to change all of that...
Recently, the California Department of Health warned that the public need to keep their mobile phones several feet away from them to reduce health risks and radiation exposure. The state released guidance for reducing exposure to cell phone radiation, surrounded by mounting evidence that mobile use may be linked to cancer, attention, mental health and reproductive health issues. Using low frequency radio signals to transmit information, cell phones put us at risk of unhealthy radiation, especially when streaming or downloading large files.
Though research has not definitively proven cell phone radiation is dangerous, there have been enough studies linking the two to exercise caution, especially for children. The California statewide notice issued warnings that citizens should make some distance between their mobiles and their bodies. The radio frequency (RF) energy cell phones use to transmit information are at the bottom of the radiation totem poll, but research suggests that our frequent, close-range exposure to cell phones may be enough to endanger us.
“Keeping a phone directly on the body has never been a good idea,” says Dr Devra Davis of the Environmental Health Trust. In fact, cell phone makers themselves seem to agree. Apple, for example, includes an ‘RF exposure’ notice in the iPhone’s settings. Health studies have shown evidence that mobile phone exposure may cause tumours in the brain or ears, where the body is frequently in contact with the gadget. Though research on RF’s effects on children specifically is fairly limited, many psychologists have already warned that cell phone use may be linked to poorer attention, mental health and sleep for adolescents.
International studies “have show that men who keep their phone in their pockets the longest have lowest sperm count, with most damage,” says Dr Davis. “Many people keep their phones in their pockets for hours a day, especially in the summer with thinner exposures will be far greater,” she adds. Contemporary cell phone signals use “the weakest signals, but strength of the signals is not an issue when comes to biological effect. It’s not the power, it’s the irregular nature of signal,” says Davis.
Dr Ramakant Deshpande, oncologist, Asian Cancer Institute, says, “Ionisation can impact children; studies have shown it’s effects on the central nervous system is higher. Children have greater exposure to cellphones and this needs to be reduced to avoid any long term health hazards.”
Radiation from cellphones have the potential to cause cancer; there has been an increase in benign tumours but not all cancers. Cellphones are very useful in daily life and it is not possible to completely stay away from them. It is suggested that a balance should be maintained and cellphones have to be used with care and precaution, cautions Dr Deshpande.
Dr Bandita Sinha, gynaecologist and infertility specialist, World of Women clinic, says that cell phone radiation can be harmful and will affect fertility, although there are no studies that prove the statistics of this radiation and its impact. However, it is advisable to keep cell phones several feet away from one’s body.
“If cell phones are kept closer to one’s body for a longer period, it can have harmful effects. As radiation affects brain and can also lead to hormonal imbalance, it also affects the menstrual cycle. Using cell phones for a longer period of time can impact sleep, long term sleep disturbances cause menstrual irregularities. Using a laptop on the lap regularly will lower sperm count,” warns Dr Sinha.
What to do?
Dr Deshpande recommends keeping cell phones away during bedtime and it should be switched off. Reducing the cell phone exposure time is better especially for children, putting in air plane more may not necessarily be helpful.
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