Keep that phone away!

Keep that phone away!

Alarming study

Keep that phone away!

The recent WHO report stating that the possibility of cancer risk increases due to the use of cellphones has led to widespread speculation.

The WHO has put mobile phones under 2B classification which means they are ‘possible’ cancer producing agents.

With mobile phones being an indispensable part of everyday life, the report has stirred intense debate among cancer specialists and the common people.

In spite of the WHO report people say that stopping the usage of mobile phones is definitely not an option.

Metrolife spoke to oncologists and people about the report and what according to them are some of the precautionary measures to be followed to reduce the electromagnetic radiation emitted by mobile phones.

M Vijaykumar, director, Kidwai Memorial Institute of Oncology, says, “The WHO categorises cancer producing agents in classification 1 if there is major scientific evidence to prove that the substance is carcinogenic. Under classification 2, there are sub-categories 2A and 2B – 2A being probable and 2B being possible cancer producing agents. Both 2A and 2B don’t have enough scientific evidence or human or animal studies to ascertain for sure that they can cause cancer. The WHO report was based on a cohort study/follow up study with publications coming from various countries. It says that if you use mobile phones for more than ten years for at least 30 minutes in a day it can cause brain cancer. So long term usage could lead to cancer. However, with a large number of people using cellphones, the study to ascertain if it can be a cause of cancer is very difficult to undertake. Irrespective of whether the report is true or false, people can take simple measures like cutting down their usage and keeping the mobile phone at a distance of at least an inch while talking.”

Experts also claim that the very nature of cancer makes it hard to ascertain the cause of it.

Biju George, an oncologist says, “I believe that there isn't enough evidence right now in literature to say for sure that the electromagnetic radiation emitted from mobile phones will lead to cancer. It is very similar to smoking – a person might be a chain smoker all his life and not get cancer while someone who doesn't even smoke might be
diagnosed with it. Cancer is a cell based phenomenon, where a cell turns carcinogenic because of a trigger like  radiation or smoking or even stress. Under ordinary
circumstances, our body’s immune system is capable of reversing the phenomenon, but in some cases when the  immune system is suppressed, cells turn cancerous. There are a number of factors that need to occur either simultaneously or in succession to cause cancer and sometimes it is difficult to pinpoint one specific cause.”

Shekhar Patil, an oncologist at Bangalore Institute of Oncology is of the opinion that we need to do our own study before coming to any conclusions.

“Till that time, simple measure like using hands free, SMSing more than talking, reducing the duration of the calls, keeping the cellphone  as far away from the body as possible when not in use, and not using the cellphone when the signal is bad can be followed,” he adds.

People are also aware of the harm that radio frequency waves can cause and say a phone with lower specific absorption rate (SAR) is the best bet when it comes to reducing exposure to RF (radio frequency) waves.

The SAR is the measure of amount of radio frequency energy absorbed by the body. Lower the value lower the exposure to RF waves.

Seetharam G S, a professional says, “Anything is bad in high dosages. The best solution for people who use cellphones frequently is to buy a handset with lesser SAR rating.”

Madhuri N Gupta, an IT professional, on a more humorous note says, “Use the phone only when necessary. Now people can’t complain when you throw your phone in a corner and don’t answer calls since you were just being health conscious!”

Precautionary measures

1. Keep the phone at least one inch away while talking.
2. Use hands-free devices, bluetooth earpieces are believed to have lower SAR rating.
3. Buy a phone with a lower SAR rating.
4. Do not use the phone when the signal is bad.
5. Make conscious effort to reduce the duration of the call.
6. Keep the phone away from the body.
7. Send text messages instead of calling.

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