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iPhone5 Radiation , Is It More Dangerous ?

Discussion in 'Radiology' started by Egyptian Doctor, Sep 16, 2012.

  1. Egyptian Doctor

    Egyptian Doctor  Moderator Verified Doctor

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    The new iPhone 5 was unveiled with Apple’s usual hoopla this week. Indeed, the device has a dazzling bigger screen, a faster operating system, better camera, and other improved features from the previous iPhones.


    But singer Sheryl Crow’s recent disclosure that she believes her cellphone caused her to have a brain tumor highlights heightened concern among many of us over the dangers of cellphone radiation. An estimated 270 million Americans, or roughly 87 percent of the nation’s population, use cellphones. So should we be concerned about a spate of studies examining potential links between cellphones and brain cancer?


    Cellular telephones give off radio-frequency waves (or RF waves), which they use to communicate with nearby cell towers. According to the American Cancer Society, these waves are “a form of energy located on the electromagnetic spectrum between FM radio waves and microwaves,” which means that they cannot cause cancer by directly damaging DNA because they are not strong enough.


    However, at very high levels, RF waves can heat up body tissues; thus, when a cellphone user holds the phone to his or her ear, that part of the head absorbs RF energy. The amount of RF energy absorbed depends on a number of factors, from the type of phone used to the amount of time the person is on the phone.


    Whether this activity directly contributes to brain cancer, however, remains the subject of much discussion.


    “There are questions about exactly how the cellphone radiation may lead to a brain tumor,” says Olga Naidenko, a scientist with the Environmental Working Group. “The studies we have now are people who come to the hospital with brain tumors, and researchers try to figure out what is so special about these people — environment, genetics — and that’s where cellphone use repeatedly comes up as a risk factor.”


    Crow, who says she is fine after receiving treatment for her tumor, notes that her non-malignant growths were found in her head right near the area where she typically holds her cellphone. But there may be no definitive way to determine if it was her cellphone that caused her tumor.


    Recent research has established, though, that cellphones do have some effect on the brain.


    A study by researcher Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute of Health’s National Institute on Drug Abuse, found that cellphone use boosted the metabolism of brain glucose by 7 percent when the phone was placed next to a user’s ear for 50 minutes. While not linking the device to brain cancer, this does illustrate that the brain is directly affected by cellphone use.


    iPhone Radiation


    The specs for the radiation levels of the iPhone 5 have not yet been announced, and it may take months for the figure to be available from the FCC or private testing labs. Previous generations of the iPhone have been among the higher radiation emitters on the market.


    Radiation for cellphones is measured by specific absorption rate or SAR. According to the consumer electronics website CNET, the iPhone 4S has an SAR of 1.11 and the iPhone 3G rates 1.35. By comparison, the lowest emitter on the market, according to CNET, is the Samsung Infuse 4G at a SAR of only 0.20. The worst radiation emitter is the Motorola Bravo at 1.59.


    Keep Your Brain Safe


    While researchers are looking into exactly how cellphone usage affects the brain, they also are encouraging users to become educated in what Naidenko calls “basic cellphone hygiene.”


    “The biggest tip we have for people who ask about cellphone risk is to keep it away from the body,” Naidenko says, including both when the phone is in use and when it is not.


    When the phone is in use, this means finding ways to communicate that don’t involve putting the phone directly next to the ear.


    Some options:


    ”¢ Use the speakerphone function, which allows you to hold the phone away from your face. Most of today’s models include a speakerphone option.

    Ӣ Try a wired headset, which connects the cellphone to an ear piece through a wire, so you can set the phone down. These are widely available at electronic stores or phone outlets and cost about $10 to $20.

    Ӣ Buy a wireless headset, such as a small Bluetooth device, that sits over your ear in place of the phone. A phone retailer can help you set yours up. Bluetooth devices range from $25 to $60.


    While Bluetooth technology has led to increasing popularity among wireless headsets, Naidenko cautions that these devices give off radiation of their own, albeit less than most cellphones.


    That’s the reason, she says, that many experts recommend a wired headset, especially for people who walk around with Bluetooth devices attached to their ears all day.


    After all, “it is weaker (radiation), but the entire day, those hours do add up,” she says.


    Even better than using a headset, though, is using text messaging.


    “Text messaging is a much simpler form of data transfer,” Naidenko says. “I get less exposure, and it isn’t by my ear.”


    About half a dozen small-scale studies have suggested that the head may not be the only area that can be affected by cellphone radiation. As cellphone use has become increasingly prevalent, more men and women are storing their devices on their person between phone calls, and the phone still is emitting RF waves, even when not in use.


    Men often carry their phones in their pockets; women often do the same, while young women frequently carry their phones in their bodices.


    “As patterns of use change, you may be discovering that cellphones are risky to other body parts, as well,” Naidenko says. “That’s why our biggest tip is to keep it away from the body altogether — not in the pocket, not in the bodice, but in the hand, on the table, and for the ladies, put it in a handbag. But keep it away from the body.”


    Children in Danger


    Experts also insist parents should keep cellphones away from children — or, at least, limit them to only emergencies or sending text messages. Tissue around the skull is much thinner and less developed in children (up to age 20), meaning that they are absorbing even more radiation than adults when using a cellphone.


    “The research that is ongoing now will help,” she said. “But the definitive answers on cellphone safety are not going to come tomorrow; they aren’t going to come for years.”

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    Last edited: Sep 16, 2012

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