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Cell Phones & Cancer: A Controversial New Warning

Talking less on your cell phone might save more than just minutes. For the first time, an academic cancer research institute has made a warning linking cancer and cell phone use.

Dr. Ronald B. Herberman, director of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, issued a warning to faculty and staff to limit cell phone use due to the possible risk of cancer.He advised that children should use cell phones only for emergencies because their brains are still developing and that adults should keep the phone away from their head. The better alternative is to use a speakerphone or wireless headset. He also warned against using cell phones in public places because it exposes others to the cell phone’s electromagnetic fields.

According to the National Cancer institute, there is no definitive link between electromagnetic radiation and tumors of the brain and central nervous system. Still, there are studies being done and results that have not been completed or published. This is Dr. Herberman’s concern, and his warning is based on unpublished data. He feels, however, that people should not wait for definitive data to be published, which takes time.

Dr. Herberman’s warning goes against many studies that deny a link between cancer and cell phone usage. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is not overly concerned, either, noting that if there is a risk it is probably very small.

Currently, the published evidence is inconclusive in terms of finding a direct link between cancer and phone use. But, making some of these minor adjustments to our lives might not be that difficult and might have benefits in the long run. Is it that difficult switch to the speakerphone or a head set as we await more conclusive studies? Or, is it really that much of a problem to keep kids off the cell phones, unless in the case of emergencies? Mull it over, as, at least for now, the majority is of the opinion that there is no need for alarm.

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(c) 2008

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