According to Ramon Rego, M.D., a doctor of internal medicine with more than 20 years of experience, cell phones may be slowly causing health problems in many users.
Though cell phones are a fairly recent innovation, over 91 percent of adults across the world own one, with about 56 percent owning a smartphone, according to a study by PEW Research Center.
With such a large body of cell phone users, this technology has revolutionized the way people communicate with each other, conduct business, and find information. PEW Research Center reports that people not only feel more productive with a cell phone, they also feel that their cell phones have improved their quality of life overall.
People use their phones to help manage many aspects of their lives more efficiently, with downloadable apps available to manage their finances, find recipes for dinner, and connect them to coupons when they shop. However, all of these benefits also come with drawbacks, says Ramon Rego, M.D.
For many scientists, the research is still in its preliminary stages and is difficult to quantify, since cell phones have only been used regularly for less than two decades. However, emerging research suggests that cell phone radiation is causing lasting health problems.
This type of radiation is known as non-ionizing radiation. These radio waves are a natural consequence of wireless and electronic devices, states RF Safe, a website dedicated to providing the most up-to-date information regarding cell phone safety and regulations. Anything that is made with an antenna emits these radio waves.
In high exposure rates, large amounts of radiation can cause extreme health problems. According to Medical News Today, high enough levels of ionizing radiation can cause burns and cancer, and has proven to be fatal. Consequently, the concern for the smaller radiation levels in cell phones developed because of what scientists already know about the effects of high exposure to larger levels of radiation.
Many of today’s technologies carry this type of non-ionizing radiation. This is how microwaves work, for example. According to a contributor for Physics.org, we get small amounts of radiation everyday from unavoidable sources like sunlight, rocks, and soil. Even our food contains radioactive ingredients such as potassium. This makes bananas the most radioactive fruit, as they carry the highest levels of potassium, which is still a negligible amount. However this type of radiation should not to be confused with RF Radiation.
In very small amounts, RF radiation exposure is nothing to worry over, scientists reassure. The human body can effectively work through the insignificant levels we receive every day by accident. The concern is about constant exposure at higher levels, as Dr. Ramon Rego explains.
According to a new study reported on Consumer Electronics Net, scientists have confirmed that non-ionizing radiation that was previously thought to cause no harm to the human body is, in fact, damaging living cells. This is fairly conclusive, as a whopping 92.5 percent of the 80 studies performed confirmed that various levels of cellular damage had occurred at below thermal levels. This damage to cells affects DNA and is, in turn, a precursor to cancer, states a contributor for Consumer Electronics Net.
Furthermore, a study conducted by the Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection Center found that only four hours of exposure to cell phone radiation disrupts the ability of human brain cells to repair damaged genes.
For men, carrying cell phones can not only damage cells and DNA, but also their sperm, some scientists report. According to Markham Heid, a contributor for Men’s Health, several studies have shown that men who carry their phones in the front pockets on their hip have been shown to have decreased sperm concentration and slower, more damaged sperm.
In another study, Markham Heid reports, scientists exposed human sperm to one hour of cell phone radiation. After this exposure, the researchers saw that the radiation had caused sperm abnormalities, including problems attaching to eggs.
Fortunately, there are measures that can be taken to prevent further damage. According to Radio Frequency Safe, an organization for cell phone radiation safety and protection, consumers can replace the hands free devices they received with their cell phones and use a radio frequency safe air-tube headset instead. This type of headset uses air-filled chambers to deliver clear sound, keeping radiation away from the head. There are also pocket shields and cases that can be used to block any radiation when carrying the cell phone close to the body.
Though cell phone use continues to become increasingly prevalent, scientists have yet to determine the consequences of regular use, as widespread cell phone ownership has only developed within the last 15 years. As researchers continue to pursue and find new data every day, Dr. Ramon Rego cautions patients to be careful about their lifestyle choices, noting that being a knowledgeable consumer is beneficial to your health.
“There are always new developments, and you should always be aware of what you are using. We are not seeing many people coming in because of their phones, but it could very well become more prominent,” says Ramon Rego, M.D.