Saturday, February 6, 2010
Investigations: Your Cellphone May be Frying Your Skull
Is your cellphone or PDA frying your brain? The notion is often dismissed by scientists, especially in North America, but an interesting GQ magazine investigation says a growing body of research suggests the devices could be as bad as tobacco or lead paint - and that we could be in for major public-health problems as a result. Studies are linking their use to "brain aging," brain damage, early-onset Alzheimer's, senility, DNA damage and sperm die-offs (because cells are often kept in pockets or at the hip).
Studies have found the chance of getting a brain tumour is up to 40 percent higher among adults who've used a cell for a decade. The devices can cause tumours of the parotid gland (located in the cheek). A Swedish study last year found people who started using a cell before age 20 were five times more likely to develop a brain tumour. Another study reported a nearly 300 percent increased risk of acoustic neuroma, a tumour of the acoustic nerve.
But GQ reports U.S. authorities have so far acted to shield cellphone makers, refusing to support independent research or protect the public. Meanwhile, cellphone companies have funded skewed studies denying there is a problem.
AlterNet, picking up on this report, has this story that adds more depth to the discussion, including links to this New York Times piece on rifts among scientists doing a massive, long-awaited $24-million study on cellphone health impacts, funded partially by the telecom industry. Scientists involved in the study are reportedly so at odds with each other over the findings some are not even on speaking terms. The results have ambled about for three years without being published. But the study is already being criticized as flawed because of a faulty methodology that excludes the most vulnerable populations.