Friday, January 23, 2009

Cell phones can pop popcorn?

According to Snopes, this isn't real. However, it did get me thinking about the fact that I wrote and article last year about cell phones because I kept finding information about how it could alter children's behavior and brain function because of their thinner skull bones. The fact that they are still growing and we simply don't know what happens with long-term exposure warrants caution, especially where our children are concerned. I'm posting my article below for your reference and information. You, of course, need to make the best decision possible for you and your family regarding this issue.

Cell Phones: What You Need to Know

They’re everywhere you look; young children, senior citizens, everyone seems to be using cell phones. They’re convenient and seemingly necessary for our fast-paced life style, for parents to keep track of their children, and for parents to communicate with others for business and family obligations. Many of us have difficulty remembering what life was like without cell phones. Seriously, how did we survive without them?

So why are prominent brain surgeons telling Larry King on CNN that they no longer hold cell phones to their ears? What do we need to know to make good decisions about cell phone use for our families and for ourselves?

Read the newspaper or watch the news on television and reports seem to fluctuate wildly: one day saying that cell phones are dangerous and the next stating that there is no danger in cell phone use. But cell phone use has been linked in numerous studies to brain tumors, genetic damage, fatigue, asthma, heart disease, headaches, depression, impaired learning ability, and cancer.

What we do know is that we could be on the verge of a brain cancer epidemic. There has been a 40% increase in brain tumors in the past 20 years, which coincides with the use of the mobile phone. At the present rate of increase, predictions of 500,000 cases as soon as 2010, and over a million cases in the United States alone by 2015. We know that cell phones do affect the brain; we just aren’t sure how much exposure to cell phone radiation is too much.

Children and Cell Phones

In the US, 40% of children between the ages of 4 and 18 use some kind of wireless device, with one in three US teens using cell phones.
Scientists at the Spanish Neuro Diagnostic Research Institute in Marbella found that a two-minute cell phone call can alter the electrical activity in a child’s brain for up to an hour afterwards! Disturbed brain activity can lead to psychiatric and behavioral problems and impair learning ability. As Dr. Gerald Hyland, a government advisor in the UK said, “The results of the Spanish study show that children’s brains are affected for long periods even after very short-term use… This could affect their mood and ability to learn in the classroom if they have been using a phone during a break time, for instance. We don’t know all the answers yet, but the alteration in brain waves could lead to things like lack of concentration, memory loss, inability to learn, and aggressive behavior.”

The French health minister, Roselyne Bachelot, has taken such concerns public, issuing an alert in January urging parents to limit use, and reduce children's telephone calls to no more than six minutes. Her announcement followed a similar warning by the Health and Radio Frequencies Foundation, a research group backed by the French government that was created two years ago to study the impact of radio frequency fields on humans.
"I believe in the principle of precaution," Bachelot said during an interview. "If there is a risk, then children with developing nervous systems would be affected.”

In 1999, the UK Government formed the Independent Expert Group on Mobile Phones (IEGMP) to examine possible effects of mobile phones and transmitter base stations. This group was made up almost entirely of biomedical specialists and led by the famous British biochemist and president of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, Sir William Stewart. Their report, Mobile Phones and Health, was released in April 2000. In regards to the use of mobile phones by children the IEGMP stated:

"If there are currently unrecognized adverse health effects from the use of mobile phones, children may be more vulnerable because of their developing nervous system, the greater absorption of energy in the tissues of the head and a longer lifetime of exposure. In line with our precautionary approach, we believe that the widespread use of mobile phones by children for non-essential calls should be discouraged. We also recommend that the mobile phone industry should refrain from promoting the use of mobile phones by children.”

Here are some suggestions for cell phones:

Reduce your cell phone use. Remember that the radio frequency fields affect adults, too, and you are modeling behaviors for your child. If you are on your cell phone all the time, your child will naturally want to do the same thing, too.

Keep your cell phone at least six inches away from your body. This means that you are not carrying the cell phone in your pocket unless it is turned off. Even when phones are not in direct use, they are still emitting a frequency. Also, using the speaker feature when possible will reduce your exposure.

Carefully consider a child’s cell phone use. If children are going to use a cell phone, teach them to use the speaker feature whenever possible and limit their phone calls. Because of their thinner skull bones, children are far more vulnerable to cell phone radiation than adults.

Use your cell phone only where reception is good; the weaker the reception, the more power your phone must use to transmit and the deeper the dangerous radio waves penetrate into your body.

Consider using a headset with well-shielded wires. However, be aware that if a wired headset is not well shielded -- and most of them are not -- the wire itself acts as an antenna attracting ambient radio waves and transmitting radiation directly to your brain. Make sure that the wire used to transmit the signal to your ear is shielded.

According to Dr. Mercola, the best kind of headset to use is a combination shielded wire and air-tube headset. These operate like a stethoscope, transmitting the information to your head as an actual sound wave; although there are wires, which still must be shielded, there is no wire that goes all the way up to your head.

I encourage you to educate yourself on this very important issue so that you can make the best, informed decision for yourself and your family. You’re worth it!


“Children and Cell Phones: Is There a Risk?” Reviews research from the world’s top scientists:

“Why Brain Surgeons Are Avoiding Cell Phones.” New York Times, June 3, 2008

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