How researchers concluded that heavy cell phone use increases cancer risk
This time, scientists took an entirely new tack. Since the mobile phone spends a great deal of its time against our cheeks when we make a call, could there be a measurable effect on the salivary gland (where your spit comes from) of those who use mobile phones heavily, since the gland is located right where the phone rests during the call?
To test this, researchers comparatively measured saliva content between heavy-cellphone users and a control group comprised of deal cellphone users. Since the deaf primarily use mobile phones for texting, and thus rarely or never use a phone at their ear, the scientists deemed them to be an ideal control group.
The study patients in the heave-usage group were all using their mobile phones at least eight hours monthly, and up to 30-40 hours monthly. The salivary content of the control group and the salivary content of the heavy cellphone users were in fact significantly different, with heavy increases in the heavy-usage group – indicative of oxidative stress. Their findings, reported in the journal Antioxidants and Redox Signaling, identified a clear link between heavy cellphone use and oxidative stress.
Oxidative stress and how it suggests a cancer linkYou may recall from our articles What the Heck Are Free Radicals Anyway and What the Heck Are Antioxidants Anyway, that the human body, like just about everything in nature, oxidizes. In humans, this oxidation (damaging or aging) often occurs at the cellular level, where oxidative stress can generate cellular and genetic mutations, leading to tumors.
Thus, while scientists in this study did not witness cancer cells form in the test subjects, they did identify that the saliva glands were stressed at the cellular level, which would likely increase the risk of tumor development.
What you can do to protect yourself
Two factors seem to increase risk, and they are both factors you can control: cell phone position and frequency/duration of cell phone usage:
- The study specifically identified high-usage mobile phone users as those at greatest risk.
- In the study, researchers compared equal amounts of heavy cell phone use between those who are deaf and those who are not. Those who are deaf did not exhibit the same disconcerting effect from heavy cell phone usage. The difference seems to be entirely in how a deaf person uses a cell phone – for handheld texting, not for talking and listening. In other words, they were not affected because they didn’t keep the cell phone at their ear when using it.
- Use a headset – wireless or otherwise – when you are using your mobile phone. By doing so, you are putting a lot of space between your head in those incoming/outgoing radio signals. There has been no health risk link identified with using a headset.
- Even better, use a speakerphone, which allows you to be completely untethered from electronics while making phone calls.
- Push out when you reach out. If you are making and receiving calls with your mobile phone at your ear, at least make a point of pulling the phone away from your head during the moments of phone connection. Research has shown that the potentially harmful radio waves are strongest while your phone is making the connection. Even pulling the phone a couple of inches away from your head can significantly reduce electromagnetic field exposure risks.
- Use a landline. Many people use a mobile phone at work and at home even when they have a landline alternative. Whenever possible, choose to make your phone call from a landline since landline phones do not have the same low intensity radio frequency electromagnetic field risks.
Learn moreTo find out more about this study and the potential cancer risks of cell phone usage, you can download and listen to a WNEW (a CBS radio affiliate in Washington, DC) lively interview with Doctor Hamzany, who discusses the research in detail: Part 1 and Part 2.