Nowadays it seems as though every young kid has a cell phone. The age at which a child receives a mobile device seems to be getting younger and younger with every passing year. While there could be a number of different arguments made for why a child should or should not have a cellular phone, today we are going to talk about the big reason why it might not be a good idea: the fact that they can cause cancer.
It has long been thought that cellular devices might be linked to cancer, but now some studies are showing that they most certainly are. The World Health Organization now lists mobile phone use in the “carcinogenic hazard” category, along with engine exhaust, lead, and chloroform.
Cell phones emit non-ionizing radiation from their antennas. This radiation can be absorbed by the tissues nearest to the antenna, which would be on/in your head. The low radiation can be compared to microwaving food, only your brain is the food. When you’re holding a cell phone up to your head for prolonged amounts of time, you can imagine that you could be increasing this absorption and thus your susceptibility to cancer. The National Institutes of Health revealed that 50 minutes of cell phone use emitted enough radiation to artificially increase the activity in brain cells.
An international study on cell phones and cancer that was released in 2010 showed that participants in the study who used a cell phone for 10 years or more had double the rate of brain glioma. The same results were seen in rat studies, where male rats exposed to the same type of radiation that we are exposed to with cell phones were more likely to develop certain types of brain and heart tumors. Not only is this scary for adults who are increasingly using cell phones for work and maintaining contact with family, but it’s also an even bigger risk for children.
The scalps and skulls of children are much thinner than ours and thus can be more easily penetrated by radiation. The impact of radiation can be even greater on a child due to their cells dividing at a faster rate. Children also have more time to accumulate prolonged exposure to this radiation by using their phone and the scariest part is that the health effects might not show up for 30 years. So, while little Johnny might think that calling his friends and talking all night is the cool thing to do, it might not be so cool later down the road if he develops life-changing health issues. Protecting our children is always the number one priority and with that, here are a few things that you can tell them to do (and do yourself) to minimize risk:
- Avoid carrying a phone next to your stomach if you’re pregnant.
- Don’t carry the cell phone in your pocket next to your groin.
- Don’t sleep with your phone under your pillow.
- Text instead of talk to keep your phones away from your face.
- Avoid using cell phones in elevators, rural areas, or buildings where your phone gives off more radiation to connect to cell phone towers.
- Don’t use your cell phone in a Wifi area too often.
- Use a wired ear piece instead of holding your phone to your head.
- Use your landline instead.
Due to the fact that it takes so long to observe the damage caused by cell phone use, there are still many studies needed in the area and there are likely to be more findings in the future. In the meantime, though, take the necessary steps to protect your child. After all, better safe than sorry!
Exposure to toxins in the environment is and should be a growing concern for the public. We are seeing increasing cancer rates in younger and younger children and environmental toxins are a major reason why. Exposure to these toxins in utero or in early childhood is linked to health issues later in life, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and cancer.
In Alaska, where there are twice the amount of birth defects as the lower 48, environmentalists have noted that this number can be attributed to pollution from the lower 48 and Asia, as well as the cold climate and poor ventilation indoors. The Alaska Community Action on Toxics will be hosting a Children’s Environmental Health Summit October 5th-6th at Alaska Pacific University in Anchorage. There they will bring together parents, teachers, scientists, health care professionals, and members of the community to share information and ideas, educate, and discuss possibilities for policy changes. If you are interested in attending this summit, read more here.
September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Make sure you are doing your part in educating yourself and others so that we can protect our innocent children from the harmful effects of the environment and from this terrible disease.
Estus, Joaqlin. “Scientists say cell phones, Wifi, are environmental health hazards”. KNBA. Published September 14, 2016. http://knba.org/post/scientists-say-cell-phones-wifi-are-environmental-health-hazards. Accessed September 23, 2016.
Dellorto, Danielle. “WHO: Cell phone use can increase possible cancer risk”. CNN. Published May 31, 2011. http://www.cnn.com/2011/HEALTH/05/31/who.cell.phones/. Accessed September 23, 2016.
German, Kent. “Cell phones and cancer: 9 things you should know right now”. Published June 6, 2016. https://www.cnet.com/news/9-things-you-should-know-about-that-recent-cell-phone-cancer-link-study/. Accessed September 23, 2016.