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With the growth of global communication, cell phones allow us to be reachable anywhere at any time. As with many convenience, this new technology still be said to bring dangerous consequences, perhaps causing brain tumors or other cancers. Most people have no knowledge of science other than what they read or hear on the news or in the magazines, so we have a whole population growing up with this understanding. Is the fear justified? Do cell phones have the potential to cause physical harm, or are they completely safe? Or, like so many other questions, is the truth somewhere in the middle?
Like televisions, alarm systems, computers, and all other electrical devices, cell phones are radio devices that use Radiofrequency (Rf) energy emit electromagnetic radiation. They operate at low power (less than 1 watt) by transmitting and receiving electromagnetic radiation in the radiofrequency (RF) end of the spectrum. Radiation which is called "ionizing" can be absorbed by tissue and break molecules apart, such as gamma rays and x-rays, are known to cause cancer.Â The concern is that the cell phone and its antenna (the source of the radiation) are held close against the head. The damage to the DNA molecules is thought to be the cause. The radiation that a cell phone uses is also part of the same electromagnetic spectrum, but is not ionizing. For this reason, the U.S Food and Drug Administration (U.S. FDA) regulate these devices to ensure that the radiation doesn't pose a health hazard to users, but only once the existence of a public health hazard has been established. RF energy was mistakenly thought to similarly cause cancer.Â
Scientists at theÂ National Institutes of Health said that spending 50 minutes with a cell phone plastered to your ear is enough to change brain cell activity in the part of the brain closest to the antenna. But whether that causes any harm is still not clear.
Â According to the International Agency for Research on CancerÂ using a cell phone for as little as 30 minutesÂ mayÂ increase your risk of getting a brain tumor. The study is reported to have included 13,000 participants over 10 years. However, still now the details of this study haven't been published yet.
Dr. Vini Khurana has concluded that cell phones may be more deadly than smoking cigarettes. Part of the reason for this is over three times as many people use cell phones as smoke cigarettes (3 billion cell phone users to 1 billion smokers). He reviewed more than 100 studies and concluded "there is a significant and increasing body of evidence for a link between mobile phone usage and certain brain tumors." One study stated that children and teenagers are the most vulnerable to the growth of tumors.
Researchers in AustraliaÂ have reported their hypothesis that normal cell phone use can lead to cancer. The research group, lead by radiation expert Dr. Peter French, principal scientific officer at the Centre for Immunology Research at St Vincent's Hospital in Sydney, said that cell phone frequencies below current safety levels could stress cells in a way that has been shown to increased cancer."Differentiation", published in the June 2001 issue of the science journal, says that repeated exposure to cell phone radiation as a repeated stress will continuously create heat shock proteins within cells. Their theory is that proteins, which are sensitive to heat, are always present in cells at a low level, but are created in larger amounts when the cell is stressed by heat or other environmental factors. If they are produced too often or for too long, they are known to start cancer. However, this group has not reported absolutely evidence nor studies to prove. As a result, it's still justÂ a theory.
Each time a cell phone user makes a call, it emits a low level of radiofrequency energy as the phone's antenna generates radio waves that ultimately transmit people's voices from one phone to another. The amount of radiation depends on how long a person stays on the phone, how he holds the phone to his head, and whether he uses it in the city or the country. Though studies are being done to see if there is a link between cell phone use and the development of tumors of the brain, the US Nation Cancer Institute (NCI) has categorically said that there is no definitive link between the two. So why does the controversy persist?
Studies continue to examine the pros and cons of cell phones. They emit microwaves and produce heat. Moreover, there are claims that people have had brain tumors in the exact size, shape and position as the antenna on the cell phone when they hold the source of emission close to their brains. However, cell phones use a very low level of radio frequency (Rf) energy that is too low to cause damage. Even though some cell phone users have been diagnosed with brain cancer, many others who have not used cell phones have gotten the disease, too. Each year in the United States, brain cancer occurs at a rate of about six new cases per 100,000 people. Among the 100 million Americans who own cell phones, then, about 6,000 cases of brain cancer would be expected among them in a year, even if they had not used cell phones.
An articleÂ on CNN.com quotes Dr. Debra Davis, Director of the University of Pittsburgh's Center for Environmental Oncology, cited that "since cell phones have only been in widespread use for 10 years or so, the long-term effects of their radiation waves on the brain has yet to be determined." In fact, the Journal of the National Cancer Institute published the results ofÂ a studyÂ in Denmark that followed the cancer histories of 420,000 cell phone users over 13 years. The study's main interest was to search for increased incidences of brain or nervous system cancers, salivary gland cancer, and leukemia. The study concluded: "Risk for these cancers ... did not vary by duration of cellular telephone use, time since first subscription, age at first subscription, or type of cellular telephone (analogue or digital).Analysis of brain and nervous system tumors showed no statistically significant (standardized incidence ratios) for any subtype or anatomic location. The results of this investigation ... do not support the hypothesis of an association between use of these telephones and tumors of the brain or salivary gland, leukemia, or other cancers." So there is no hypothesis exists for how a cell phone could damage living cells or break chemical bonds.
A 2008 University of Utah analysis looked at nine studies - including some that Herberman cited - with thousands of brain-tumor patients and concluded that "we found no overall increased risk of brain tumors amongÂ cellular-phone users." In 2007, studies in France and Norway concluded the same thing. "If there is a risk from these products - and at this point we do not know that there is - it is probably very small," the FDA says. In 2006 a large Danish study about the connection between mobile phone use and cancer incidence was published. It followed over 420,000 Danish citizens for 20 years and also showed no increased risk of cancer.
TheÂ World Health Organization (WHO), based on the majority view of scientific and medical communities, has stated that cancer is unlikely to be caused by cell phones or their base stations and reviews haven't found any evidence for other health effects. Â Some national radiation advisory authoritiesÂ have had measures to minimize exposure to people as aÂ second approach.
Melissa Bondy of M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston says that it's possible that brain tumors take more than 5 to 10 years to develop. Bondy also notes that there are major difficulties studying links between cell phones and cancer. Even if the study had found an increase in brain tumor rates, that doesn't mean that cell phones are to blame. Studies such as this can find relationships, but they can't prove that one thing caused another. Lots of other trends that can also help explain changes in disease rates.
Researchers at Tokyo Women's Medical UniversityÂ compared phone use in 322 brain cancer patients with 683 healthy people and found that regularly using cell phone did not significantly affect the likelihood of getting brain cancer. "Using our newly developed and more accurate techniques, we found no association between mobile phone use and cancer, providing more evidence to suggest they don't cause brain cancer," Naohito Yamaguchi, who led the research, said. His team's findings were published in the British Journal of Cancer.
In addition, radiation from cell phones doesn't appear to cause cancer in rats, according to a study by researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. The research team exposed rats to the two most common types of cell phone radiation for four hours a day, five days a week for two years. "We tried to mimic a high level of exposure that humans might experience," says study leader Joseph L. Roti Roti, Ph.D. Professor of Radiation Oncology, of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics and of Cell Biology and Physiology. "We found no statistically significant increases in any tumor type, including brain, liver, lung or kidney, compared to the control group." So, cell phones don't seem to cause any issue damages to people as well as animals.
The amount of radiation most popular cell phones emit is well below agreed limits and largely in line with data published by manufacturers. The survey conducted by Finland's Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority (STUK) covered 16 new models made by top handset makers including Finland's own Nokia, Motorola of the United States and South Korea's Samsung Electronics. At this level, the study found that head tissue does not warm significantly and no other harmful effects have been proved scientifically.
However, up to now, no one can really know whether cell phones are dangerous or not? But it doesn't mean that they're totally safe. Meanwhile, there are some simple steps that cell phone users can take to reduce any remaining risk. Use a headset or speaker mode when answering a call so your phone and its antenna away from your head. Minimize your usage because as long as your cell phone turned on, it emits radiation that enables it to communicate with base stations, the radiation emitted is strong and more frequent when you're talking or texting. In a car, use an external antenna mounted outside the vehicle to move the source of the radiation farther from you. Remember to make your call only when you have strong reception because your phone heat up and emit more radiation when you have low reception. Moreover, the effects of cellular damage are greatest growing, developing organisms, so limit children's use of cell phones. Last but not least, don't believe people's claims on radiation, selling devices that they say protect against radiation. These useless items are mostly sold as "shields" on the internet. Experts say none of these devices work.
So far, there has been no absolute evidence that cell phones cause cancer or brain tumors. It is also illogical to believe that evidence of unusual brain tumors is hidden when there are hundreds of millions of people using cell phones worldwide. However, cell phones are still relatively new, and while science does not support that the radiation may not be likely to cause cancer, time may prove differently. So for our safety, we should take some recommended precautions that are listed above seriously.