Many of us have heard about or seen the cell phone popcorn trick, where multiple cell phones are used to pop corn kernels. Is this just a fun party trick, or is there genuine cause for concern that our brains and bodies are also being “microwaved” each time we use a mobile phone?
Earlier this month, Italy’s Supreme Court in Rome ruled in favor of the latter, claiming that there is a “causal link” between the brain tumor of a 60-year old Italian businessman Innocente Marcolini and his phone use (which stretched up to 6 hours per day, typically on the mobile phone). The case was based on evidence by oncologist Angelo Gino Levis and neurosurgeon Dr. Giuseppe Grasso, who claimed that mobile and cordless phones emit electromagnetic radiation, thus damaging cells and making the formation of tumors more likely.
An increasing number of studies are being made into the effects of mobile phone use on the human body. In 2011, the World Health Organization (WHO) urged that people limit their mobile phone usage and has called them a Class B carcinogen – possibly carcinogenic to humans – although it has never made a claim that a clear causal link exists between mobile phones and tumors and/or cancer. Based on the research conducted by the WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer, the organization offers some additional insight about the safety of mobile phone use:
Mobile phones are low-powered radiofrequency transmitters, operating at frequencies between 450 and 2700 MHz with peak powers in the range of 0.1 to 2 watts. The handset only transmits power when it is turned on.
A person using a mobile phone 30–40 cm away from their body – for example when text messaging, accessing the Internet, or using a “hands free” device – will therefore have a much lower exposure to radiofrequency fields than someone holding the handset against their head.
Exposure is also reduced by limiting the number and length of calls. Using the phone in areas of good reception also decreases exposure as it allows the phone to transmit at reduced power. – World Health Organization, June 2011
Yet, another independent study conducted at the University of Örebro, in Sweden, and published in early 2011, examined the association between the use of mobile and cordless phones and malignant brain tumurs. It concluded:
In conclusion, an increased risk was found for glioma and use of mobile or cordless phone. The risk increased with latency time and cumulative use in hours and was highest in subjects with first use before the age of 20. – Hardell et al., Feb. 2011
One of the key aspects of Hardell’s study is that it was independent and not-funded by any mobile phone manufacturers, hence it was given more weight in Marcolini’s case, although the WHO claims that a committee was set up to form a “firewall” between the sponsor and researchers involved in its study. “Thus the industry contribution had absolutely no influence on the study outcome,” Michael Repacholi, former coordinator of the WHO’s Electromagnetic Fields Project.
Today, most health agencies and the medical establishment in general do not support the idea that mobile phones cause cancer. Marcolini’s case could, however, become a legal basis for a class action suit, but, more importantly, perhaps, it will motivate health organizations to further explore the risks of cordless and mobile phone use and also serves as another warning for habitual cell phone users.
Just a generation ago, people were not always connected throughout each day, but still lived productive, fruitful and social lives. When was the last time you turned off your mobile phone for at least a day?
Read more articles by Anna Hunt.
About the Author
Anna Hunt is writer, yoga instructor, mother of three, and lover of healthy food. She’s the founder of Awareness Junkie, an online community paving the way for better health and personal transformation. She’s also the co-editor at Waking Times, where she writes about optimal health and wellness. Anna spent 6 years in Costa Rica as a teacher of Hatha and therapeutic yoga. She now teaches at Asheville Yoga Center and is pursuing her Yoga Therapy certification. During her free time, you’ll find her on the mat or in the kitchen, creating new kid-friendly superfood recipes.
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