Weighing The Risks Of Cell Phones

There was a flurry of concern when a study by the

World Health Organization was released saying that radiation from cell phones could possibly be associated with some risk of brain cancer. I admit I got a little scared until I started reading more.

Here’s an excerpt from the PBS NewsHour:

“Scientists have debated the topic for years, but the recent announcement is the first time that the international health organization has placed cell phones, which are used by about 5 billion people worldwide, in a category reserved for things that are “possibly” cancer-causing.†Also in this category are pickled vegetables, coffee and car exhaust.”

WHO looked at scientific studies conducted over many years. The 31 scientists from 14 countries could only conclude that there is a “possible” link between cell phones and a rare form of brain cancer.

The report says researchers found no correlation between cell phone use and cancer in recent users and those who use their phones moderately. They found a very slight correlation for those who’ve used their phones for more than 10 years, and used them heavily every day.

They defined heavy use as more than 30 minutes every day.

I can’t worry about that, as the risk still appears minute.

And on the positive side, this means scientists will treat the subject more seriously, do more studies and find some definitive answers. More research will lead to better, safer design.

And if you’re really worried about the here and now, scientists advise you to use a hands-free device rather than press the phone to your ear. Or text.

Actually, when it comes to cell phone use, there is a real danger that we face every single day. That became even clearer to me the other day.

As we waited to get into a restaurant, I happened to look out at the street in front of us.

A guy on a moped was moving toward a crosswalk. The light turned red and he didn’t see it until he was almost right on it. He braked – hard! Tires squealed, slipped and he wiped out … right at the edge of the crosswalk.

And, yes, he was on the phone when it happened.

So there he was, sprawled under his moped on the street. People who had jumped from the crosswalk back to the sidewalk to get out of his way gingerly stepped back in as the guy crawled out from under his bike.

He limped a step or two, and the first thing he did was look around for his phone. Only after he had located it and pressed it back to his ear did he pick up his bike and move it out of the way to the sidewalk.

In summary, the guy was talking on his cell phone while driving a moped. He was distracted; his reactions were delayed. He could have killed himself or some innocent person in that crosswalk.

So, yes, I’d say there’s definitely a risk to using cell phones – and it has nothing to do with radiation.