Stories tagged cell phones


Who is this?: "My... brain tumor"? No, I think you must have the wrong number.
Who is this?: "My... brain tumor"? No, I think you must have the wrong number.Courtesy MikeSchinkel
I’m not sure if it has come up on Buzz before, but there has been a long-running disagreement in the scientific community as to whether or not cell phone use increases your chances of developing cancer. (“Long running” relative to how long cells have been around, anyway.) Industry studies done ten years ago even suggested that there may be a link between cell phones and brain tumors, but other research completed since then has cast some doubt on those findings. The idea we’ve been left with, for the most part, seems to be that cell phones are more or less safe.

The debate has just recently been reignited, however. A group of scientists has warned congress that the studies denying a cell phone/cancer link may be severely lacking, an that new studies are demonstrating a pretty solid connection between exposure to the magnetic fields emitted by cell phones and the development of brain tumors.

The majority of studies used in the argument against a health link, the scientists point out, define “regular cell phone use” as once a week—far less than the average cell phone use currently. The group also draws on the analogy of cigarettes: it took 50 years for the health community to establish a convincing link between cigarette smoking and lung cancer, but that’s not something anyone would even question today. Scientists have had a far shorter time to study the long-term effects of cell phone use, and a brain tumor can take “dozens of years to develop,” so they argue that cell phone use should be treated with caution.

Several warning studies were shown to the congressional committee. Surveys from Scandinavia, where cell phones were first developed, showed that cell phone users were twice as likely to develop a tumor on the auditory nerves of the ear they usually held their phone to, compared to the other ear. An Israeli study showed that heavy cell phone users were 50 % more likely to develop salivary gland tumors. Recently published English research demonstrated that adolescents who started using cell phones before the age of 20 were five times more likely to develop brain cancer by 29 than those who didn’t use cell phones—all on the side of the head where they used their phones.

Kids are particularly vulnerable to cell phone emissions—the radiation penetrates far deeper into their brains than it does to adult users.

The goal of the scientists was to encourage further studies on the health effects of cell phone use, and to urge the Federal Communications Commission—in charge of monitoring setting limits to exposure to the radio spectrum—to review their standards.

It’s something to think about though, isn’t it, Buzzketeers? Something to think about while you’re trying to fall asleep, and you’ve got a head ache just on the right side…

What do you think? Would you change your cell phone use based on something like this? Or do you think people should wait for more information before they start changing their behavior? Or is this just a reason to text even more?


A conceptual mock-up of the new phone: by the author.  (Original image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)
A conceptual mock-up of the new phone: by the author. (Original image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)
A new cell phone uses bone conduction to transmit sound to your inner-ear. So, now, instead of having to lift the thing all the way up to your ear, you can just press it to your jaw instead.

The conduction of sound through bone is part of the reason we all think our recorded voices sound so weird – they’re missing the resonance of our skull and jawbones. Using bone conduction for something like a cell phone should allow for the operator to hear and be heard better making calls in noisy environments.

Some potential issues occur to me. What about people who, like me, have beards insulating their jawbones? Are we to be left behind? Or what if we don’t want to look like this person? Some of us have enough social concerns with having to be seen holding a remote control to our heads every time we make a call (which may not be all that often, but still).

No doubt this has all already been considered by scientists.


Here are some of the most interesting perspectives on the 35W bridge collapse that I have run across in the last few days:

Cell phone network sends ominous signals - Engineers at T-Mobile were alerted that something had gone wrong right after the bridge collapse. They hadn't heard the new yet but saw a sharp change in cell phone activity on their network.

Government spending collapsed as well - A graph of US government spending on infrastructure over the last 55 years.

Historians and engineers have a thing or two to learn from each other - An editorial from 2006 of the history of engineering disasters.

Bridges made from glass - A prescient report from the National Science Foundation on poor infrastructure and the future of bridge technology.

Not according to this study. Patients who claimed to suffer nausea, fatigue and other symptoms due to cell phone towers showed no change in their conditions, whether the towers were on or off.