A new study out of Sweden indicates that talking on cellphones and even cordless phones can be related to a certain form of brain cancer.
The study, published in the journal Pathophysiology in October, analyzed the results of 1,498 cases of people with malignant brain tumours and 3,530 controls to determine whether phone use had any effect on their cancer.
In their findings, it appeared that the longer a person used a cell or cordless phone, the more likely they were to get become gliomas, a type of tumour found in the brain or spinal cord that is malignant in 80 per cent of cases, according to WebMD.
“The risk is three times higher after 25 years of use. We can see this clearly,” the study's lead researcher, Dr. Lennart Hardell, told Reuters.
Those who had only been using a cell or cordless phone for less than a year were at the least amount of risk, while those who used their phone on the same side of the body (or "ipsilaterally") for many years had the highest odds for brain cancer.
The cause for concern with cellphones comes from the radiofrequency energy, a type of electromagnetic radiation emitted by the phones, explains the National Cancer Institute. These waves can then be absorbed by the tissues of the brain, and it is not yet understood how this may or may not affect the development of cancer.
Dr. Gabriel Zada, a neurosurgeon in California, noted to Reuters that children could be particularly at risk due to having smaller heads, thinner skulls and higher brain conductivity.
Earlier this year, a study from France found similar results about cellphone use and glioma, though the results in that study showed tumours developing on the opposite side of the brain, reported The Atlantic's The Wire.
As of October, the International Agency for Research on Cancer has classified cellphones as "possibly carcinogenic," according to the World Health Organization, which is planning for a further study into health outcomes from phones by 2016.
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A Bluetooth headset is one of the best ways to reduce exposure, as it allows the user to keep the source of radiation at a distance. Although this advice is often heard, it is seldom followed. If you find it tedious to use a Bluetooth headset all the time, try at least to use it on longer calls as well as during dial-up and the first few seconds of a call, when the phone is emitting its highest level of radiation. It is also a good idea to avoid keeping the mobile phone turned on all night and sitting on the nightstand next to your pillow.
When the reception signal is poor, the phone compensates by turning up the strength of the signals it emits. Consequently, it is recommended to limit the length of calls in places where reception is limited: underground parking lots, in rural areas far away from phone towers, or in cars (even while stopped). Also, avoid using a mobile phone on a rapidly moving train or bus, as the passage between different cell towers along the route similarly causes the phone to turn up its signal emission.
Since children's bodies are still developing, they could be more susceptible than adults to any potential negative effects of electromagnetic radiation. Parents should delay giving children their own mobile phones until it is absolutely necessary and limit the time a child spends using the device.
Several shops and websites offer gadgets that claim to protect phone users from electromagnetic radiation. Unfortunately, the vast majority of these devices do not live up to their claims, according to a series of tests conducted by the French National Agency for Health Safety (ANSES). In particular, the anti-radiation stickers designed to be stuck on the back of a mobile phone have absolutely no impact. On the other hand, some anti-radiation phone cases have been shown to limit the user's absorption of the phone's rays, but they make it nearly impossible to receive or make a call.
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