We have heard a great deal of speculation about cell phone use over the past ten years. It’s gotten to the point where it is unusual to find someone giving out their home phone number, and even somewhat odd if they have a home phone. You find bumper stickers ranting in bold print against driving while talking, hundreds if not thousands of accessories to make your cell phone that much flashier, that much more personal. They are the sidekicks we can’t imagine doing without, the tools we upgrade, update and hang onto with vice-like grips.
Cell phones have become such a prevalent part of our culture that they are automatically accepted with little thought to the danger they may pose to our health. Of course, the question still remains – are they a danger or is it merely hype that is propagated by the annoyed and irritated or paranoid and old-fashioned?
In a 2003 study done by Salford, Brun, Eberhardt, Malmgren and Persson from the Rausing Laboratory and Lund University Hospital in Sweden, the effects on rat brains of microwave radiation in amounts comparable to those broadcast by common cell phone usage were documented. The resulting damage included cell damage, leakage of proteins through the blood-brain barrier and a depressing suggestion of a generation of users feeling the effects as early as middle age.
The idea behind this study was that instead of concentrating on cancer caused by the radiation, the focus was placed on more specific brain damage. They found that there was indeed brain cell damage, in amounts significant enough to warrant further investigation.
On a recent episode of Larry King, prominent neurosurgeon Dr. Keith Black from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles said he keeps the phone away from his ear, instead opting to use an earpiece. Add to this the fact that Dr. Vini Khurana, an associate professor of neurosurgery at the Australian National University will only use his cell’s speaker capability and CNN’s chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, a neurosurgeon at Emory University Hospital, will only use an earpiece, it makes one start to wonder about the seriousness of this.
At this time, the American Cancer Society has found no hard link between cell phone usage and cancer, but brain damage? This area of research is still new and will take more study.
Either way, we use earpieces. We highly advocate weighing the potential in your own mind and deciding if the inconvenience of remembering to plug in your Bluetooth outweighs the potential for a future study definitively linking cell phone use to brain damage.