That rectangular electronic device that goes with you everywhere and helps you manage in your day-to-day life might just be causing cancer.
Cell phones and Radiation:
More than 90% of American adults use cell phones, but very little is actually known about their safety. The researchers from the National Toxicology Program (NTP) studied the link between cancer and chronic exposure to the types of radiation emitted from cell phones and other electronic devices.
The study reviewed an unprecedented number of rodents who were subjected to electromagnetic radiation starting in utero. It has presented evidence that this exposure is linked to the formation of rare cancers in at least two cell types, in the brain and hearts of rats.
Why It Was Done:
This animal study was designed primarily to answer questions about cancer risks humans might experience when they use cell phones and other similar electronic devices. The findings shocked some scientists who had been closely tracking the study.
Their surprise was derived from the fact that this study seemed to prove different results when compared to various other studies on the same subject matter. The main difference between this study and so many others is the significant amount of time in which it was conducted.
Researchers at the National Toxicology Program exposed rodents to carefully calibrated radio-frequency (RF) radiation levels designed to simulate what humans with heavy cell phone use or exposure could theoretically experience in their daily lives.
The animals were placed in specially built chambers that doused their whole bodies with varying amounts and types of this radiation for approximately nine hours per day throughout their two-year life spans.
Their entire bodies were exposed because people are exposed to such radiation beyond their heads, especially when they carry or store their electronic devices on their bodies. During the study, the rats were able to run around in their cages, and to eat and sleep as usual.
How They Did It:
Exposing rodents to radiation for this type of experiment is a pretty difficult process. Scientists had to calculate precisely how much the rats should be exposed to, relative to humans. Too much or too little would prove ineffect for human comparison.
The researchers found that as the rats had more radiation exposure, more of them developed rare forms of brain and heart cancers. More than could not be easily explained away. The rats exhibited a direct dose–response relationship. The frequency of these rare tumors was still relatively low, which would be expected with rare tumors in general, but the occurrences grew with greater levels of exposure.
Should you be concerned?
The answer is yes, you should be concerned, but do not go overboard. This study raises a number of other questions that have yet to be answered. The best thing for you to do is remain aware and try to limit your electronic exposure whenever possible.
It is important to note that previous human observational data collected in large-scale population-based studies found limited evidence of an increased risk of developing cancer from cell phone use.
The Federal Communications Commission, told Scientific American in a statement, “We are aware that the National Toxicology Program is studying this important issue. Scientific evidence always informs FCC rules on this matter. We will continue to follow all recommendations from federal health and safety experts including whether the FCC should modify its current policies and RF exposure limits in electronic devices.”
What you can do:
There are safety steps individuals can take:
- Use a speakerphone
- Keep your phone on your desk instead of on the body
- Similarly, keep your phone in a purse, or day bag instead of a pocket
- Use a wired headset whenever possible
It’s a great thing that research is being done on the subject (at last). Be sure to stay tuned for all the latest discoveries and tips for staying healthy.
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