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With advanced technology comes possible health side effects that may lead to early death. Research from numerous institutes shows that continuous use of cell phones increases brain activity, although its long term effects are yet to be fully understood. With the World Health Organization (WHO) now classifying radiation from cell phones as a possible human carcinogen, health care professionals, parents, and anyone who uses a smartphone appears to be in danger of developing brain cancer.

Mobile Phones and Radiation

Scientist discovered that human brain cells communicate through electrical impulses. This means that any signal that is transmitted electronically can be detected by the brain. Researchers in the Netherlands found out that when participants placed a dialing phone on their ears, radiation was electrically detected by their brains.

Several studies showed that brain patterns were altered by cell phone radiation, especially in the dialing process. However, there are conflicting reports about how cell phones affect the brain.

Some researchers say that the type of radiation emitted by mobile phones is a very low energy radio frequency radiation that’s not radioactive, and therefore, cannot directly damage DNA. However, with modern and advanced scientific methods, researchers were able to conclude that participants who used mobile phones for a year had a lapse in memory performance.

Radiation and the Brain

High radiation absorption was detected in people who made long phone calls per day. Body parts nearest to this radiation were more at risk compared to other non-exposed body parts. As mentioned above, mobile phones emit radiofrequency radiation, which is a form of electromagnetic radiation. Electromagnetic radiation can either be ionizing, for example, x-rays or non-ionizing, for example, cell phones, TV or microwave ovens. Exposure to ionizing radiation from x-rays and cosmic rays are linked to the risk of cancer.

However, there is no conclusive evidence that exposure to non-ionizing radiation is a risk to humans. But, this doesn’t mean that phone use is safe. One study by the Radiology Society of North America on young people who actively used their cell phones reported that there was an imbalance in brain chemicals compared to a controlled group. It was also discovered that cognitive function reduced significantly when near a cell phone, even while it’s off. Experts advise against overuse of smartphones due to the many negative implications they have on our health.

More studies

Another study by the Environmental Health Trust sought to find the extent of radiation absorbed by the brain both in adults and children. According to the researchers, the brain of a young child, say five years, contains more fluid and has a thinner skull encasing compared to an adult’s. When exposed to cell phone radiation, there was a greater absorption in a young child’s growing tissue.

To make matters worse, another research by the United States’ National Institute of Drug Abuse indicates that 50 minutes of exposure to mobile phone radiation in male adults alters glucose production. As we all know, glucose is the fuel that drives our brains, and when released in high levels, brain activity is accelerated. Exposure to the radiation weakened the walls of blood vessels, causing leakage into the brain. The long term effect of this could potentially lead to brain damage. The WHO recognizes the dangers of using mobile phones, especially among the youth who are the most affected group. For this reason, WHO has proposed further research to look at the long term negative impacts of mobile phone use.

Insomnia

Struggling to sleep at night? Your smartphone may be the culprit. Experts are warning that the type of light emitted by your mobile phone messes with your sleep cycle. The light sends the wrong signals to the brain telling it that it’s still daytime. That’s why you may take longer to fall asleep when looking at your phone than when reading a printed book.

Safety Concerns

The chances of an accident caused by cell phone use either handheld or hands-free are three to four times higher due to distraction. Mobile phones also interfere with medical devices such as pacemakers and specific hearing aids and other electronics like aircraft or in the gas station, when used in close proximity. That’s why many gas stations and airports have banned the use of mobile phones within the vicinity.

Preventive Measures

While there are conflicting findings on how cell phones affect our health, it’s better to be safe than sorry. The fact remains that exposure to any form of radiation is not safe and electronic devices are not an exception. To avoid potential health risks:

  • Keep your cell phones at a safe distance, especially away from sensitive areas such as the head, stomach (in pregnant women), and ears.
  • Use a headset or put the phone on speaker.
  • Put your phone on airplane mode when not in use.
  • Remember to turn off all wireless devices before going to bed.
  • Switch off all electronic devices at night before going to sleep and avoid watching or chatting while in bed.

All images by Pixabay

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