Can Cell Phone Radiation Affect Our Cells?
Cell phones are completely safe in that the radiations they emit have been found to be too weak to heat up biological tissues or cause any significant damage to chemical bonds. However, the same cannot be said of the radio waves emanating from them, as they can lead to changes in the way a cell normally behaves.
In an experiment conducted on 10 female volunteers, each were exposed to radiation measured at 900 megahertz from GSM phones to simulate a phone call that lasts an hour. An appraisal of a total of 580 different proteins from their skin cells threw up some interesting facts, like a particular protein type increased in number by 89 percent while another decreased by 32 percent.
The results of this experiment armed researchers, probably for the first time, with data that proves inconclusively that exposure to information carrying radio waves does bring about a change in our molecules. This, even when there’s no significant change of temperature involved. Such variations were previously detected in cultured cells and the experiment proved the impact of radio waves radiating from cell phones on human beings. And if you are curious to know the physiological significance of the change in protein count, you are for some disappointment as they are still to be found out.
But dismissing it altogether will be a mistake, more so in view of all the data that are currently available and all of which point to serious long-term health hazards for cell phone users.
So, what causes the biological damage?
First things first. For land based portable phones, cell phones or WiFi routers, it’s not the thermal effect they emit that poses a risk to its users, unless of course you’re exposed to massive doses of thermal exposure that is typical of a microwave oven. Cell phones and similar devices obtain their SAR ratings on the basis of the thermal damage they can cause and the ratings are largely positive since the thermal effects of these devices are insignificant at best.
It is largely believed the biological damage is caused both due to the modulated signals that are carried ‘on’ the carrier microwave as well as the carrier wave itself. But they differ in the way they inflict damage on biological tissues. These modulated information-carrying radio waves typically associated with cell phones generally resonate in biological frequencies that range from a few to several hundred cycles per second, enough to stimulate our cellular receptors, resulting in a cascade of pathological consequences all of which culminate in fatigue, anxiety and even worse, cancers.
This is nothing short of a major health crisis beginning to take shape if we take into account the amount of waves that we are subjected to and which has shown phenomenal increase in recent times. The following facts will put things in a better perspective. It took two decades starting from 1984 for the number of cell phone users to cross the one billion mark. Subsequently, the number of people using cell phones grew by a billion within 18 months, 9 months and then just 6 months to cross the 4 billion mark.
And this does not include the exposure we get from the use of WiFi routers or, more commonly, wireless Internet. With a time lag of about 5 to 20 years before any of the ill effects brought about by these waves to become apparent, the onus to protect our future generation and ourselves in squarely on us and now is the time to act.
We may already be the sufferers
The latest experiment shatters the myth that RF radiations that cell phones emit pose no adverse health risk to its users. Research conducted in different countries on this is further strengthening the fact. However, the ease with which the resulting health hazards can be attributed to other causes is perhaps preventing people at large to link adverse health symptoms to their exposure to cell phones or other radio wave emitting devices.
Also, though cancer and brain tumors are the most common diseases that are often linked to cell phone radiation, other ailments that we should be equally wary of includes:
- Alzheimer’s, senility and dementia
- Problem in sleeping
- Lack in concentration and spatial awareness
- Altered memory function
A picture can speak a thousand words
The June 2003 issue of Environmental Health Perspectives carried a report that clearly showed how EMF’s that emanate out of certain mobile phones, can have a negative impact on the neurons in the brains of rats that are 12 – 36 weeks old. Rats of this age group were chosen as their developmental age resembles to that of teenagers in case of humans, the ones who are more prone to use cell phones.
While the cross-section on top shows what the healthy brain of a rat should look like, the picture at the bottom brings to the fore how the brain of the same rat will look post a two-hour exposure to GSM cell phone radiation of varying intensities. The dark patches resemble the proteins that have leaked through the blood-brain barrier, signifying considerable neuronal damage in the cortex, hippocampus and basal ganglia.
The report stressed on the need for special attention that a growing brain especially deserves, keeping in view the vulnerability of the biological and maturational processes during this stage. More so when there’s the real chance of an entire generation of users to suffer adverse health effects that prolonged use of such devices can cause.
What about the headset that you’ve been using?
Some switched to the use of a headset in order to cut down on radiation exposure, which however, turned out to be counter productive if recent research works is anything to go by. Since these headsets can result in an intense exposure for their users to harmful radiation, which sometimes can be by as much as a whooping 300 percent.
Amount of radiation exposure increases for a headset since in this case, the headset itself acts as an antenna, and which is directly inserted into your ear canal. And acquainting yourself with the pros and cons of cell phone headsets is all the more important, especially since it’s becoming legally binding to use hands free headsets while driving all over the United States.
The British Independent Group on Mobile Phones will recommend the use of a headset only in conjugation with filters that can prevent the headset wire from acting as an antenna. One solution in this regard is the use of an air-tube headset that can conduct sound effectively, but will prevent any radiation from reaching your brain through the wire.
Some tips to minimize your exposure
Ways to ensure complete safety against radiation exposure continues to elude us, but there are some precautions that we can surely adopt:
- Cut down on the amount of time you spend on the phone.
- Try to stay away from WiFi routers as much as you can.
- If its land based non cellular phones that you have, try to strictly limit your usage to only 900 MHz phones since Gigahertz phone will stay on at all times, pounding you with information bearing radio waves 24 hours a day.
- Make a habit of using the speakerphone as often as you can, instead of putting your phone to your ear. This is perhaps the nearest that you can do other than not using the cell phone altogether.
- Switch to the use of a wired headset, especially an air-tube headset, in order to bring down your exposure to cell phone. As has already been mentioned, air-tube headsets only conduct sound and does not allow any radiation to reach your brain via the wire. Also, it should be nothing but shielded wire to be used, as it prevents the wire from acting as an antenna, which then will attract several times more information carrying radio waves to your brain.
- Avoid calls inside buildings and try to use your cell phone in open spaces as much as you can.
- Minimize the use of phone by children and preadolescents.