Could Your Cell Phone Be Harmful To Your Health?

Keep your body safe and your brain sharp with these tips for cell phone safety

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How much time do you spend using your cell phone each day? Do you carry it in your pocket? Is it on your nightstand or even under your pillow when you sleep at night?

If your cell phone is your constant companion, you’re certainly not alone. As of 2012 there were over 303 million U.S. cell phone subscribers (amazingly close to the country’s total population).

And for many of us, the cell phone is not just a phone – it feels more like an extra appendage.

Given how much time we spend with our phones, it makes sense to assess some of the potential health implications.

After all, a cell phone is a complex, low powered radiofrequency transmitter. And radiofrequency energy is a form of electromagnetic radiation.

In other words: serious stuff.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (World Health Organization) has deemed electromagnetic fields from cell phones as possibly carcinogenic (same as lead, chloroform and engine exhaust).

Now “possibly carcinogenic” doesn’t mean “definitely harmful”. That said, the United States FDA does not test cell phone safety. And for every study that outlines something negative related to cell phones, there’s another showing no effect.

But even if we don’t have solid data, we can exercise some precautions.

For men, there are two areas in particular that deserve consideration: your brain, and your reproductive system.

Brain Health

Science tells us that the brain is susceptible to electromagnetic field radiation.

When we hold a cell phone by our head, the electromagnetic fields can penetrate about two inches inside the brain. Nerves innervating the eyes and ears may also be exposed to cell phone radiation. Some cell phone users have reported blurred vision, difficulty concentrating and tinnitus (ringing in the ears).

There are some associations between cell phone (and cordless phone) use and brain cancer. Tumors in the brain/neck seem to be higher in those who have used cell phones for more than 10 years. Not definitive but still striking, since we all want to avoid the big C .

Reproductive Health

Electromagnetic radiation could potentially cause problems with testicular tissues.

For example:

  • More cell phone use is correlated to less sperm motility, altered sperm morphology (in other words, funny-looking wigglers) and a decreased sperm count.

  • Animal studies have shown decreases in testicular size and sperm cell death with exposure to electromagnetic radiation.

  • Cell phone radiation might also lead to lower testosterone and cause testicular cancer.

In other words, your phone could be messing with your boys.

Smarter Cell Phone Use

The risks of using cell phones still aren’t clear. No, you don’t have to throw out your precious phone. But it probably makes sense to take some simple precautions. Try these ones on for size:

  • Text more. Texting can reduce radiation exposure to the brain.

  • Don’t hold a cell phone next to your head. Personally, I use a hands-free ear piece most of the time. Or you can use the speaker function when possible.

  • Keep cell phones away from your body. Instead of keeping them in your pocket, keep them in a shoulder bag or backpack. The further the cell phone is away from your body, the less exposure you have to the radiofrequency (another benefit of texting).

  • Don’t sleep with your cell phone on your nightstand.

Finally—and here’s the big one, guys—turn it off. A cell phone only emits radiation when it’s turned on.

And let’s face it, we could all benefit from turning our phones off once in a while. Consider this your permission to go phone-free for a while.

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