The head of a prominent cancer research institute isn’t waiting for a conclusive link to be made between cancer and cell phone use. At the end of July he advised some his faculty and staff at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute to limit use of the devices because of the possible risk of cancer. The potential risk is highest to children, he said, and to people who already have the disease.
Dr. Ronald B. Herberman points out in the memo to his department that the ubiquitous use of cell phones is so recent that the hard-and-fast data on health risks – of the kind now abundant for tobacco and asbestos risks, for instance – isn’t yet available. Citing scores of studies that don’t rule out the possibility of health dangers, he recommends that exposure should be limited while research continues.
The memo has been headline news because no other major academic cancer research institutions have sounded such an alarm about cell phone use.
Manufacturers report that cell and wireless phones emit electromagnetic radiation, Dr. Herberman notes in the memo, and electromagnetic fields are likely to penetrate the brain more deeply for children than for adults. He presents a diagram that estimates young children are more susceptible to electromagnetic fields due to smaller sized brains and softer brain tissue.
“The most recent studies, which include subjects with a history of cell phone usage for a duration of at least 10 years, show a possible association between certain benign tumors (acoustic neuromas) and some brain cancers on the side the device is used,” he wrote.
His recommendations for limiting exposure include: banning children from using the devices except in emergencies, holding the cellphone away from the body when it is in use, using the speaker-phone mode or a wireless Bluetooth headset, not carrying the phone on the body, using a landline for longer conversations as the biological effects are directly related to the duration of exposure. and not limiting use of the device to one ear.
His memo concludes with a prompt to the cell phone industry to take responsibility for designing phones that reduce the electromagnetic emissions.
Source: University of Pittsburgh