You've probably started hearing in the media about emerging studies showing possible correlations between heavy cell phone use and brain tumors. But what not many people are talking about is the risk of carrying cell phones in our pockets for hours each day. This is where it gets even more interesting and a little scary too!
First of all, to both guys and gals… read this article carefully, as it contains some potentially scary health issues related to cell phone use. And although the examples are geared towards men's issues, I wouldn't trust that it's only men that can experience health issues from heavy cell phone use.
You're also going to want to pass this page on to your friends and family to help them protect their health, and the health of their "crotch"… sounds funny, I know…but this is serious business.
To start, I realize that some people simply don't believe that something as small as a cell phone can give off any radiation levels that could harm your health over time. But we're not talking about immediate harm… we're talking about long term harm from chronic use, which most of us in this day and age use cell phones or have them in our pockets daily.
According to a recent article published on Yahoo Health, and a large health study conducted, the 2010 Interphone study… "People who chatted via cell for just 30 minutes a day for 10 years saw their risk of glioma (the type of brain tumor that killed Ted Kennedy) rise 40 percent".
I feel like we are all currently in an inadvertent giant human guinea pig study right now with cell phone use. Not purposely, but simply because cell phones (and another dangerous new phenomenon, our constant exposure to radiation from "wifi" and other wireless technologies) moved onto the scene so fast and infiltrated the entire population over the last 10 years.
Think about it… most of the population has only been using cell phones and wifi heavily for less than 10 years now… that's not a long enough time to know long term consequences (such as 15-30 year cancer risks) and most studies that supposedly "prove" the safety of cell phones have been funded by the telecom industry and have ridiculously low usage levels that they study.
We're definitely finding that the average person has a cell phone either strapped to their ear or carried in a pocket for more hours per day than any studies have any definitive long-term safety data on.
As Tim Ferriss points out in his fascinating new book, The 4-Hour Body … "Most of the studies performed in the US that conclude no negative effect are funded either directly or indirectly (as with many IEEE studies) by cell phone manufacturers and carriers. Does this prove malfeasance? No, but it should raise a red flag."
One of the things that scares me about the possible harmful long term effects of carrying a cell phone in my pockets is potential testicular cancer. I honestly feel that as the years go on, and we get to a level of chronic cell phone use where people have been carrying these things in their pockets for 10 or 15 years or more, we're going to see testicular cancer rates skyrocket.
But cancer risks are long term, and we may not have enough data from studies yet to prove definitive cancer risks such as testicular cancer. So let's look at more current measurements that can prove health problems associated with cell phone use…
According to Tim Ferriss in his book, The 4-Hour Body … "Lo and behold, jumping from article to article on Medline, there were more than a handful of studies that showed significant decreases in serum testosterone in rats following even moderate exposure (30 minutes per day, 5 days a week, for 4 weeks) to 900 megahertz radio frequency electro-magnetic fields (EMF), which is what most GSM cell phones produce."
Beyond lowering testosterone, can cell phones hurt your "swimmers"?
Tim did some more digging, but this time switched gears from just cell phone effects on lowering testosterone levels, and he began researching cell phone effects on sperm count and function.
Tim continues, "Of the dozens of studies that I found, most done in Europe, more than 70% concluded the same thing: cell phone radiation impairs sperm function."
In The 4-Hour Body, Tim also presents the results of a study he read about male Wistar rats that were exposed to a mobile phone for 1 hour continuously per day for 28 days… the end result of the study was that the mobile phone exposure to the rats significantly reduced the % of motile sperm. The conclusion was that mobile phones negatively affect semen quality and may impair male fertility.
Think about this… they were only exposed to the mobile phone radiation for 1 hour per day for 28 days, and showed negative effects on sperm count and function…. how many of us out there carry a cell phone in our pocket for like 8-10 hours every day!!!!
Doesn't look good for our "boys", does it?
Now it gets even more interesting… It turns out that Tim first started researching the correlation between low sperm count and cell phone use because he went and got a sperm count test, and found out that his numbers were surprisingly low.
In Tim's words… "the lab results, which were available the afternoon after my session, put my sperm count on the low range of normal, borderline problematic. I couldn't believe it. Assuming it was a lab mistake, I repeated the drill 3 weeks later and came back with an even lower count. The more tests I did over the next 12 months, the lower the results."
After Tim started researching the effects of cell phone use on sperm count, he realized that for years, he'd been carrying a cell phone in his pocket for about 12 hours per day, most days of the week.
So he decided to do a test…
For 11 weeks, Tim decided that he would no longer carry his cell phone in his pocket… or as he puts it "my phone was no longer allowed to cuddle with my testicles".
Instead, he kept the phone on the other side of the room if working at home, or if he had to go somewhere, he kept his phone either strapped to his arm with an ipod armband, or in a backpack pocket. If he had to carry it in his pocket, he turned it off, and only turned it back on occasionally to check messages.
He actually performed this test for 11 weeks for a specific reason… sperm production takes an estimated 64 days in humans… so he wanted to wait that long, plus an extra 2 weeks for buffer.
The results of the 11 week "no-cell-phone-in-the-pocket" test:
The numbers are shocking…
Now Tim admits that his study wasn't perfect, as there may have been other influences that weren't accounted for, such as his diet not being exactly the same during each time period. However, he feels confident enough that these results speak for themselves…. after all, the results are pretty significant!
Personally, cell phone health issues is also a topic I've been reading a good deal about in the last couple of years. Whether there's any conclusive evidence of cancer risk from cell phones, perhaps that's still to be determined… but I think we have significant evidence that cell phone use (and particularly carrying it in the pocket) can reduce both Testosterone levels (not good!) and also reduce sperm count and function (also scary!).
And please guys… don't start carrying around 2 cell phones in each pocket as a form of birth control! All jokes aside, remember that there are possible bigger implications to this than just reduced sperm count… we're talking lower testosterone levels, possible increased cancer risk, etc.
What about women? Please ladies, I wouldn't trust that health issues are only happening to men… I'm sure there are complications that can happen to women too…so beware ladies!
In fact, on the recent Yahoo Health article, according to David Carpenter, M.D., director of the Institute for Health and Environment at the University at Albany (regarding carrying cell phones near the pelvis, or using laptops on the lap), "For women, the studies aren't quite there yet, but I think we can say that anything that might cause cancer almost always causes birth defects, so pregnant women—or those wanting to become pregnant soon—should take extra precautions."
What I've done to help protect myself from these risks is this:
1. When I'm at home, I keep my cell phone on the other side of my home office, or in another room. I try not to keep it anywhere near me most of the day. If I get a call, I simply get up and answer it, the same way that we used to have to walk across the room to answer a phone before the days of mobile phones!
2. In my car, I keep my phone off of my body and put it in the front console or the passenger seat if I don't have a passenger. The farther away from your body, the better.
3. When I go to the gym, go hiking, biking, etc… I leave that sucker in the car! I don't want it on my body any longer than it has to be. After all, I think a LOT of us need to learn how to not be a slave to our cell phones. The texts and voicemails will be waiting when you're done your hike or your gym workout…don't be a slave to your phone!
4. If I absolutely must carry my cell phone on me, such as if I'm meeting friends out and need to be able to contact them… well, in that case, I simply try to keep the phone out of my pocket as much as possible… if we're at a restaurant, I put the phone on the edge of the table instead of in my pocket, or I just turn it off if I no longer need to get in touch with friends.
5. Remember that EMF dangers aren't only with cell phones…it also occurs with Wifi, and other wireless devices. So I also try to never use my laptop on my lap… If I'm at an airport, I usually try to find a table to sit at, so the laptop isn't actually sitting on my "junk". Also, if possible, I try to use a wired internet connection (ethernet) instead of Wifi or mobile broadband. In my house, I've also switched to a wired internet connection and gotten rid of the wireless router altogether.
With all of this said, will I ever give up my cell phone?
Well, let's be realistic…the cell phone has become an important part of our lives, and most of us aren't willing to give it up. However, I plan to take the 5 steps that I listed above to minimize my risk.
I hope you take this issue as seriously as it should be taken. It's time most of us wake up and realize that we are all inadvertently involving ourselves in a giant human guinea pig study on the risks of chronic cell phone and wifi use.
Thanks to Tim Ferriss and his new 4-Hour Body book for providing some of the tests and info in this article!