A prominent cancer researcher’s warning to limit cell phone use has rekindled anew the longstanding question over mobile-phone health risks.
The media is abuzz with news of the memo from Dr. Ronald B. Herberman, director of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute. He sent it to faculty and staff Wednesday, saying, among other things, that children should use cell phones only for emergencies, since their developing organs are the most likely to be sensitive to possible effects of exposure to electromagnetic fields.
Dr. Ronald B. Herberman
In his 10-point advisory (see below), Herberman also urges adults to keep phones away from their heads and use speakerphones or wireless headsets.
He suggests that people try to avoid constantly carrying their cell phones on their bodies and also try not to keep the devices nearby at night under the pillow or on a nightstand. He even warns against using cell phones in public places like buses because it exposes others to the phone’s electromagnetic fields.
Herberman notes that the precautions have been reviewed by UPCI experts in neuro-oncology, epidemiology, and neurosurgery, as well as the Center for Environmental Oncology.
The tumor immunologist’s words are grabbing widespread attention both because of his professional position and because they contradict numerous studies that don’t find a link between cancer and cell phone use.
Herberman said his warning was based on early findings from unpublished data.
“Recently, I have become aware of the growing body of literature linking long-term cell phone use to possible adverse health effects including cancer,” he says. “Although the evidence is still controversial, I am convinced that there are sufficient data to warrant issuing an advisory to share some precautionary advice on cell phone use.”
For anyone concerned about possible health repercussions of cell phone use, many of Herberman’s suggestions are easy enough to implement and minimally disruptive at most. Still, the topic can prove daunting to consumers.
Read the New York Times article.
Practical Advice to Limit Exposure to Electromagnetic Radiation Emitted from Cell Phones
Do not allow children to use a cell phone, except for emergencies. The developing organs of a fetus or child are the most likely to be sensitive to any possible effects of exposure to electromagnetic fields.
While communicating using your cell phone, try to keep the cell phone away from the body as much as possible. The amplitude of the electromagnetic field is one fourth the strength at a distance of two inches and fifty times lower at three feet.
Whenever possible, use the speaker-phone mode or a wireless Bluetooth headset, which has less than 1/100th of the electromagnetic emission of a normal cell phone. Use of a hands-free ear piece attachment may also reduce exposures.
Avoid using your cell phone in places, like a bus, where you can passively expose others to your phone’s electromagnetic fields.
Avoid carrying your cell phone on your body at all times. Do not keep it near your body at night such as under the pillow or on a bedside table, particularly if pregnant. You can also put it on