Posts Tagged Brain

Cell Phones and Cancer

According to CNN, several brain surgeons who use cell phones avoid putting the antenna directly against their ears for fear of developing brain tumors. They use earphones or speaker phones rather than using the antennas alone.

However, the type of radiation emitted by cell phones should not cause cancer. Cell phones let off waves of non-ionizing radiation. There is no known biological mechanism by which such waves can affect the kind of DNA damage associated with cancer. The radiation is thought to be too weak to break chemical bonds.

Yet one cannot assume that because the mechanism for cell phones causing cancer is unknown that no such mechanism exists. Cell phones do generate heat and they do emit radio waves which are absorbed by the head and neck. Also, studies show that cell phone users who develop brain cancers tend to have them on the same side of the head as where they use their phone. If there were no connection between brain cancers and cell phones, one would expect the cancers to occur just as often on one side of the head as the other. I wonder if users who alternate placing the phone on their left and right sides are less susceptible to cancer because each side receives less exposure. On the other hand, they might be even more susceptible to cancer because they are hitting both sides of their heads with radiation. Clearly scientists need to do more research to answer these questions.

Also children may face an even greater risk from developing cancer from cell phones than adults do. Since their bones are still developing, their skulls are thinner, meaning they provide a less effective barrier to radiation. In addition, there may be unknown long-term effects of usage that will only become clear after several years of exposure. No one knows for certain what the impact of using a cell phone for forty or fifty years could be.

Readers may be wondering what the symptoms of brain cancer how and what treatment options are available. The medical term for the type of brain cancer allegedly cause by cell phone usage is glioma. Gliomas are tumors of the central nervous system that affect glial cells. Glial cells take their name from the Greek word for glue and they are like the glue that holds nerves together.

Gliomas can affect different portions of the central nervous system. A brain glioma can lead to headaches, nausea and vomiting, seizures, and cranial nerve disorders as a result of increased pressure in the skull. A glioma of the optic nerve can cause partial or total blindness. Spinal cord gliomas may cause pain, weakness or numbness in the limbs, fingers, and toes

Treatment of gliomas depends on a number of factors including, type of tumor, age of the patient, and patient health. Some tumors are benign, i.e. slow-growing and harmless, while others are malignant, i.e. fast-growing and harmful. Typical treamtment for a glioma links several approaches including surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy . It may seem odd that radiation seems to cause gliomas and radiation is used to cure gliomas. But here two different types of radiation are involved. The type of radiation emitted by cell phone antennas is non-ionizing radiation while the type of radiation used in therapy is ionizing radiation. It is possible to get cancer from radiation therapy but it only occurs in a small minority of patients, many years after receiving treatment.

Some take home points to consider are: 1) Safety first – when you can use headphones or a headset with your cell phone instead of using the antenna directly, do so. 2) Limit your cell phone usage to what is reasonable. Don’t spend an hour on the phone with your neighbor when you can go over there and speak to him face-to-face. This will be good for both your physical health and your financial health. 3) Think of the children. Kids really don’t need cell phones until they are in high school. I got my first cell phone in college and I turned out fine. They may rant and rave now, but how will they feel when their cool friends develop tumors?

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