With the new “no cellphones during passing periods” rule at Ursuline, students are getting used to putting their phones inside their front pockets. What they may not realize, however, is that this can be a harmful habit.
After their debut in the 1990s, cellphones have increasingly become a part of our daily lives. They can help us do just about anything: give us directions to reach a destination, communicate with other people, and even entertain us with social media and apps.
In the medical world, there has been concern that due to the radiofrequency (RF) waves cellphones give off, humans face increased risk of tumors in the brain, head, and neck areas. Though a cellphone is an extremely useful and practical thing to own, extreme exposure to these RF waves can be detrimental to a person’s physical health.
According to the American Cancer Society, “Cell phones work by sending signals to (and receiving them from) nearby cell towers (base stations) using RF waves. This is a form of electromagnetic energy that falls between FM radio waves and microwaves.” The RF waves come from the phone’s antenna (the body of a handheld phone), thus, body tissues in more proximity to the cellphone absorb more RF waves than more distant tissues.
There have been extensive lab studies that have been performed in order to answer doctors’ main concern: Do cellphones really cause malignant tumors? The answer, sadly, is yes; cellphone exposure can potentially cause both malignant and non-cancerous tumors.
Research has proven that exposure to cellphones could cause tumors like: brain tumors (such as gliomas and meningiomas), tumors in the nerve connecting the brain to the ear (such as vestibular schwannomas, also known as acoustic neuromas), and tumors in the salivary glands. In addition, there is a possible link between increased cellphone exposure to the body and skin, breast, and ovarian cancer.
A specific research published by a group of scientists in Sweden reports “an increased risk of tumors on the side of the head where the phone was held, particularly with 10 or more years of use.”
Thankfully, however, there are precautions people can take in order to limit exposure to RF waves. For instance, using speaker phone occasionally instead of holding it next to one’s head, limiting cellphone use before going to bed, and avoiding putting one’s cellphone inside pant and shirt pockets are simple ways to limit contact with radiofrequency waves. So the next time you’re walking to class, try to put your cellphone inside your backpack instead of your front pocket… your body will thank you!