'Zapped' in SELF magazine!
Addicted to your iPhone? Yeah, we are, too. But maybe it's time for an intervention.
An international panel of experts convened by the World Health Organization dropped a bomb on the nearly 5 billion cell phone users yesterday, releasing a new report suggesting that cell phone use is a possible carcinogen.
In fact, researchers report that just 30 minutes of cell phone use a day (or more) is a category B carcinogen -- akin to talcum body power and pickled vegetables.
The conclusion marks a shift from WHO's original position, stating there were no risks from cell phone use. The experts stressed, however, that the evidence of a link remains elusive and more research is needed to further explore the possible risk.
"It's about time we started to take cell phone radiation much more seriously," says Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, New York Times bestselling author of Zapped. "Certainly, technology is not going away, but we desperately need to educate and develop strategies to lessen our exposure to man-made and artificial radiation which have been found to have biological effects."
To that end, we asked Gittleman for her tips on how to limit exposure to potentially harmful cell phone radiation:
1. Put them on speaker. Anything you can do to keep the cell phone as far away from your head as possible will reduce the energy or power level. The farther away you are from the antenna, the lower the signal. The wire on many headsets can act as an antenna, which can deliver a dose of electromagnetic radiation to your head.
2. Use your words. Text whenever you can. It limits the duration of your exposure and keeps the phone farther away from your head and body. When you text, don't keep the phone in your lap. There have been an increasing number of studies that have found damage to sperm vitality and motility in men. Chances are, it's not great for our ovaries either!
3. Go offline. Make it a habit to turn the phone off when it's not in use or to switch it to offline, standalone, or flight modes, which turn off the wireless transmitter but still allow you to use the phone or PDA for everything except making calls or browsing the web or email.
4. Make the switch. If you absolutely must place the phone against your head, switch ears regularly while chatting on a cell to limit prolonged exposure on one side, which has been linked to increased risk of brain tumors and salivary cancers on the side of the head where the phone is usually held.
5. Avoid tight spaces. Don't make or take calls in elevators, trains, underground or in the car. On the plus side, cell phone use while driving is becoming increasingly against the law because it creates distraction.
6. Keep an eye on the bars. Don't use your phone when the signal is weak or when you're traveling at higher speeds in a car or train. This automatically boosts power to maximum as the phone attempts to connect to a new relay antenna.
7. Ride the quiet car. Many trains have so-called quiet cars where cell use is prohibited and phones must be switched off so they don't disturb other riders. It's your best bet for traveling without overwhelming secondhand exposure to electromagnetic radiation.
8. Keep it short. A cell phone isn't what you want to use to catch up with an old high school buddy. If your conversation is going to be long, use a landline. One study found that after two minutes, the brain's electrical activity can be altered for at least an hour. Remember, brain tumor risk starts at a relatively low level of cumulative lifetime exposure.
9. Spend even less time on your PDA. Wireless devices such as the BlackBerry, iPhone, and Treo produce higher emissions than cell phones because they rely on the energy from batteries to power up things like e-mail, Internet connections and color display.
10. Dial, then stretch. Don't place the cell phone on your ear while your call is connecting -- that's the time the phone is sending out its strongest signal.
11. Get it out of your pocket. A recent study found that men who carried their cells in their pockets had 25 percent lower sperm counts when compared to another group that didn't carry a cell. Different parts of the body absorb radiation in different intensities, and testicular tissue may be more vulnerable.
12. Keep the cell out of the bedroom. Specifically, don't sleep with your cell near your head. Remember, electromagnetic fields can reduce your body's production of melatonin and with it a powerful free radical scavenger that can protect your cells from the DNA damage that can lead to cancer and other disease.