My Cell Phone is Safe...Right?

Posted by: Michelle Conlin on September 19, 2007

businessmen on cell phones.jpg

There is a disturbing and growing body of scientific evidence that points to health dangers associated with cell phones. The lastest comes from The French Interphone Study and the results are anything but reassuring.

Why is there such a benighted view in the U.S. about cell phone safety versus the more enlightened view in Europe?

Europe has a precautionary attitude towards cell phones. That’s why they don’t market them to children and insist on labeling that notes the potential risks and dangers. In the U.S., things work differently.

Here’s what one world-renowned researcher and European academic recently told me:

“There is a difference between the US and the EU when a product is seen as unsafe. In the US, there is a much bigger liability problem. I can tell you about one time when I was giving a presentation for a car manufacturer. I was discussing the dangers associated with latex (which are relevant also for rubber tires used by car companies), and I was stopped in the middle of my presentation. They didn’t want me to discuss this any further, because if they didn’t know about the problem, there would be no liability issue. In the EU, on the other hand, there is the precautionary principle. It makes it easier to know what’s really going on. In the US, however, companies need to say their products are safe or risk getting sued.”

User beware.

Reader Comments

amacmillin

September 20, 2007 1:32 PM

Wow, what timing. Being a heavy cell user (2000 min/month for about 6 years) this gets my attention. In the last couple months, I've noticed recurring headaches whenever using the cell for over 10 minutes. Now I want to seek medical evaluation and ways to reduce the risk. Like, does using a bluetooth headset dodge the exposure?

GRN

September 20, 2007 10:01 PM

The researchers in the cited study are 95% certain that the risk of glioma associated with cellphone use is between 0.65 and 2.05. The null hypothesis--the hypothesis that cellphone users and nonusers are equally likely to develop glioma--is that the odds ratio equals 1. Therefore it is just as likely that there is no increased risk of glioma as it is that there is an increased risk of glioma between 1% and 105%. Further, fully 25% of the values that are equally likely to be correct are below 1, which would indicate a protective effect, i.e. that cellphone use *prevents* cancer. Finally, even if the rates of glioma are doubled among cellphone users, the study did not mention what the current rate is among the general population. If, for example, something occurs among 1 in 1,000,000 people in the general population, double the risk would be 1 in 500,000 people, which is negligible on a populationwide basis.

Amacmillin: The headaches could be caused by your posture during calls. Your arms, head, and neck are all connected, of course, and strain on any of them could cause muscle tension that manifests itself as a headache.

vlad

September 20, 2007 10:53 PM

...So use an ear piece and keep the phone away from yur head.

Jerry Krakowski

October 3, 2007 6:42 PM

Vlad, you mentioned earpiece. While that helps, that isn't the total solution. I recently heard a program that protects the earpiece wearer from the magnetic field used to power the earpice, but I cannot find the name of that company. The dangers I have learned about cell phones is that they use a technology not much different than a microwave. It seems obvious to me that eventually, even if cancer is not involved, one would simply fry one's brains.

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