Concerns about Harmful Effects of Cell Phone Radiation
The prevailing increase in the use of cellular phones has raised a concern about the harmful effects of their radiation. WHO conducted a meeting of 31 scientists from 14 countries and together the experts have concluded that cell phone use should be classified as "possibly carcinogenic". Independent studies indicate the danger of glioma, the most common type of brain cancer from radiation of cell phones.
The towers that transmit cell phone signals are also considered to be dangerous as the mobile tower radiation carries innumerable signals to millions of cell phones.
Electromagnetic Radiation Can Cause Heating and Burns
Mobile phones and other digital wireless systems use electromagnetic radiation with frequency ranging from 450 Hz to 2100 MHz, the range classified under the microwave.
Cell phones emit electromagnetic radiation not only from the antenna but also from the circuit system and battery, all of them causing harm to biological tissues.
Microwave electromagnetic radiation is known to cause heating and burns, but do not contain sufficient energy to chemically change substances by ionization. Prolonged exposure to heat may be the reason for the chemical damage in a cell or tissue.
Some studies suggest that long-term exposure may cause cancer.
Damage to Human Tissue
Radiation from cell phones is in the microwave range and this can result in dielectric heating, caused by rotations of polar molecules induced by an electromagnetic field. This kind of heat may not be strong enough to cause direct damage to the human tissues, but long-term exposure may affect the vulnerable tissues.
The cornea of the eye, when exposed to 2-3 hours of radiation, has been reported to result in cataracts in rabbit's eyes.
Risk of Cancers
Cell phone users may have increased risk of the following cancers:
Glioma (brain tumor) - On the side of the head where handset is used
Salivary gland cancer
Acoustic neuroma (auditory nerve cancer)
Meningiomas (cancer of membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord)
Most studies did not find statistically significant increase in the head and neck cancer to be related to higher amounts of cell phone use.
Some case-control studies show increased brain cancer risk with long-term use of cell phone, especially among people who began using cell phones below the age of 20.
Blood-Brain-Barrier Disruption Can Result in Dementia
Blood-Brain-Barrier can be disturbed by mobile phone microwave radiation during normal calls. A leakage of albumin into the brain via this barrier has been reported.
The disruption of the barrier is known to result in conditions such as Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease and dementia.
DNA damage has been reported due to mobile phone radiation, and the risk increases with both intensity and duration of exposure to the cell phone radiation.
Sleeping with a cell phone under the pillow or near the bed causes sleep disturbances.
Reduction in quality of rapid eye movement (REM) sleep.
It reduces the production of melatonin, the hormone that controls sleep-wake cycle or the circadian rhythm.
Decreased sleep time, in turn, results in other problems like memory loss, depression, hypertension, diabetes, etc.
Cognitive disturbances like decreased accuracy, poor attention and concentration were seen.
Cardiovascular Irregularities can Increase with Cell Phone Usage Cardiovascular Effects:
Heart rate irregularities like an increase in heart rate and palpitations are linked to the duration of cellphone use.
Blood morphologies like RBC clumping and misshapen cells are found to occur with increased use of cell phones. The RBCs changes are temporary in the beginning, but could become permanent with continued use.
In vitro studies of direct exposure of blood to the cell phone radiation indicate loss of hemoglobin from RBCs.
Damage to Ears and Eyes
Effects on Ears:
Temporary threshold shift which may become permanent on continuous exposure.
Acoustic neuroma, the tumor of the auditory nerve.
Tinnitus and buzzing sounds in the ear.
Effects on Eyes:
Heat from cell phones damages various parts of the eye.
Other Harmful Effects
Other effects of cell phones on human body reported by various studies:
Changes in production of specific proteins in human cells.
Decrease in sperm count and quality.
Dizziness and migraines.
Behavior problems in children and young adults.
Behaviour problems in children who are exposed to cell phone radiation during pregnancy.
Irritation and rashes on the skin, especially on the face.
Changes in calcium transport from cells.
Increased proliferation of human epithelial cells.
Altered enzyme activities.
Regulation of Cell Phone Radiation Levels
1985 - First safety guidelines for radiofrequency radiation enacted by US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to control the levels of heat produced by radiations.
1993 - The possible link between brain tumors and cell phone use came up. The case was rejected in 1995.
1996 - FCC expanded its guidelines on radiation exposure. Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) was defined as the rate of absorption of radiofrequency energy by the body tissues during cell phone use.
Safety Measures While Using Cell Phone
February 2010 - 1st study on cell phone radiation, causing harm to humans conducted by FCC.
May, 2011 - IARC of WHO classified cell phone radiation as "possibly carcinogenic to humans".
July, 2012 - US Government Accountability Office (GAO) concluded that the FCC should "formally reassess" the effect of cell phone radiation on human health and the limit of radiation exposure.
The current research and evidences are not conclusive about cell phones causing detrimental effects on the human body. Two major factors contribute to the validity of evidence and conclusions:
Cancer takes about 10 to 20 years to develop.
Cell phone usage in these years has changed dramatically.
Mobile phone safety and measures to limit the cell phone use are the best ways to avoid any negative effects of cell phone radiation.
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