The major news organizations lead story on 5/31 was that cell phones could cause cancer. The World Health Organization, whose article will be published in Lancet Oncology in June, will classify cell phones as possibly causing cancer.
Here is the real scoop: there is no new data from the World Health Organization; in fact most of the data they reviewed was rather old. More recent data shows no positive link to cell phones and brain cancers. The most obvious is that the type of cancer they examine, glioma- has not risen in its incidence over the last few years – and we have over a billion cell phones today. Hardly like lung cancer, which was all but unknown before cigarettes, and rose and decline as cigarette smoking rose and declined.
But, there are a few facts you should know:
There is microwave radiation from your cell phone. Using an earpiece will greatly decrease the radiation and the risk.
The highest radiation from your cell phone comes when you travel in an automobile. The phone is jumping from cell-tower to cell-tower, and this increases the output. So while driving, it is even more important to wear an ear piece.
The real danger of cell phones is from driving. There is a positive increase in accidents that have been attributed to the use of cell phones while driving. Many states and cities have passed laws that require cell phone users to have an earpiece.
The human brain cannot multi-task – in spite of what you might believe of yourself. Concentrating on driving and a conversation is simply impossible for the brain to do. Going back and forth between a conversation and driving is a distraction and dangerous. Ever look up and miss a car that stopped in front of you by an inch? Imagine being distracted for one second more by a conversation – that means your lap might be filled with your automobile engine.
Best tip: when you drive, put the cell phone away. Don’t answer calls, use that time to drive, and get to where you need to go. If you do need to use a cell phone (as a physician I do need to answer calls)- do not use the phone next to your ear- use both hands for driving, and let the Bluetooth, or headset take care of it. I still find it better to pull over and chat with the hospital so I can give them my full attention, and make notes.
Texting and driving is deadly. While getting ready to cross a road I saw an oncoming truck. The driver was holding up the phone and texting. He did not realize that he had crossed from the middle lane, to the lane closest to me and was headed to the sidewalk where I was standing. I move back, to watch his truck wheel go up onto the sidewalk as he dropped his phone and regained control of his truck. More trauma centers are reporting accidents that happen when people text and drive.
Cell phones can kill you- but probably not from brain cancer. The highest radiation is when you are in your automobile. Best advice about the new warnings- don’t use your cell phone while in your car unless it is an emergency- and if you don’t have a Bluetooth device or ear piece – just put the phone away and drive to your destination.
Dr. Terry Simpson
Dr. Terry Simpson received his undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Chicago where he spent several years in the Kovler Viral Oncology laboratories doing genetic engineering. He found he liked people more than petri dishes, and received his MD. Dr. Simpson, then became a renowned weight loss surgeon, and a leading advocate of culinary medicine. The first surgeon to become certified in Culinary Medicine, he advocates teaching people to improve their health through their food. On the other side of the world, he has been a leading advocate of changing health care to make it more "relationship based," and his efforts awarded his team the Malcom Baldrige award for healthcare in 2011 for the NUKA system of care in Alaska. A frequent contributor to media outlets discussing health related topics and advances in medicine, he is also a proud dad, husband, author, cook, and surgeon “in that order.” For media inquiries, please visit www.terrysimpson.com.