We all use them, and they are not about to go away. Some days I would swear that phone knows more about my life than I do. I would have forgotten an appointment today if not for my phone’s handy-dandy reminder this morning. But can my executive secretary give me brain cancer or harm my nervous system? And is 5GHz technology the threat some say it is?
So I turned to my favorite guru, Dr. Greger, who researches the research and distills the information I’m looking for from all those published studies and papers. I watched seven of his short videos about cell phones and here are the take-aways.
Do Cell Phones Cause Salivary Gland Tumors?
I never thought of that!
Our salivary glands are located under the tongue (sub-lingual) and behind both ears (parotid glands). Here’s what Greger concluded. Studies did not show short term problems. But chronic changes turned up in a study that showed there was more heat and radiation on the side of the head where the person holds the phone. They identified “broken eggs” cells. An interesting visual to describe an anomaly associated with cancer. The increased risk for cancer was up to 28% – which shakes out to 1 out of 1100 instead of 1 out of 1400. Best to use speaker, Bluetooth, or text when possible. https://nutritionfacts.org/video/do-cell-phones-cause-salivary-gland-tumors/
Effects of Cell Phones and Bluetooth on Nerve Function
Comparing cell phone users with non-users, observational studies showed a slight effect in both ears of users. With more cell phone use, the threshold for hearing a test tone grows higher. Seems okay of one uses the cell phone for only 10 to 20 minutes per day. Hearing loss due to EMF (electromagnetic field) exposure occurred at 2 hours of cell use per day.
Since those results were based on observational studies, researchers “put it to the test” (as Greger always says). During brain surgery, they held a cell phone over the auditory nerve. (Just asking, was it sterilized?) They noted such a dramatic decrease in nerve function that they stopped the experiment after five minutes to avoid permanent damage to auditory structures.
Later, they did the same test but against an intact skull. Ten minute use showed no effect, but 60 minutes use had enough of an effect to be picked up on a hearing test.
Fortunately, Bluetooth does not seem to affect hearing. And it is best to keep your cell phone away from your body as much as possible. (I saw a photo of skin cancer lesions in the shape of a cell phone on the breast of a woman who kept her cell phone in her bra (Don’t ask me why she kept it there.)
Do Mobile Phones Affect Brain Function?
A brain scan showed increased activity on the part of the brain closest to the phone’s antenna (the fronto-temporal region). They found EMF exposure did appear to cause increased brain activity in the cortex and could be associated with faster reaction time. Alas, too short of time to make a difference. It could, however, interfere with sleep. Phone use does not seem to cause cognitive or psycho-motor effects either.
Good news, but who’s doing the studies? Studies done by phone companies could be skewed or even shelved if outcomes were not to their liking. When the World Health Organization announced there should be cell phone standards, Greger said the industry went into “defend mode.” So far, it seems many studies show differing outcomes, so there is enough doubt going around to protect cell phone companies from damages.
(At any rate, we’ll soon find out how smart we are in about 20 years, since cell phones are here to stay.) https://nutritionfacts.org/video/the-effects-of-cell-phones-and-bluetooth-on-nerve-function/
What about Wi-Fi radiation on brain function?
EEG test results on brain waves noted small changes at the lower GHz 2.4 frequency. They expect the new 5GHz frequency will have even lower levels of exposure because 5GHz has a shallower penetration depth. https://nutritionfacts.org/video/does-wi-fi-radiation-affect-brain-function/
Cell Phone Brain Tumor Risk
If you want purely unbiased research on cancer, I would turn to the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).
Cancer risk from food, radiation, cell phones, etc. is graded from definitely carcinogenic, to probable, to possible and on down the line to zero.
In 2011 the IARC found radiation from cell phone use on the side of head where the phone is held to be a “possible” cause of cancer. In 2017 they determined it could be a 46% probability.
What to do? As mentioned above, use the speaker mode, Bluetooth, or texting. But if you don’t want everyone around you to hear a personal conversation, wait a moment before putting the phone to your ear, (perhaps on the alternate side of the head?), because the radiation is highest at the moment of call connection.
Only make phone calls when the reception is good, not underground or in a car. (Yikes! How many times have I called from my car? I guess I’ll just pull over, stand outside, and make my call. Helps if your car has cell phone capability, I guess.
Greger advises against buying “protection” covers because the phone may radiate even more to overcome the cover barrier. https://nutritionfacts.org/video/cell-phone-brain-tumor-risk/
Is Electro-Magnetic Hypersensitivity Real?
Bottom line on this one is no. To test the reality of symptoms (nausea, palpitations, crawly feelings, ringing in the ears), etc.) they sat people on EMF coils. The people reported lots of symptoms, which was strange because the coils weren’t connected to anything.
Then they tested people who believed they were sensitive and had symptoms with phone use. Again, they felt a variety of symptoms, but most had a dummy phone and others could not tell if their phone was on or off.
In two experiments, subjects did feel sensations when exposed to EMF 97% of the time. Unfortunately, they were unable to replicate that in further tests. https://nutritionfacts.org/video/is-electromagnetic-hypersensitivity-real/
Do Mobile Phones Affect Sleep?
Hmm. Good question. Meta-analysis did find bedtime access to phones and media devices interfered with quantity and quality of sleep. (I think listening to the 11 p.m. news may do the same thing.)
We need more research. Are people turning to their phone and media because they can’t sleep? (A boring book may work too….. Just saying.) Or perhaps it’s the light from your devices in your room. Light interferes with melatonin production, which we need for good sleep.
Well, I guess we will just have to sleep on that question.