In this day and age, cellphones are practically attached to us. It is almost impossible to be out in public and not see almost everyone with a smartphone in hand. Cellphones are with us 24/7 and after a long day, most of us lie down in bed with our cellphones in hand. We sit in complete darkness with a bright screen over our head (occasionally dropping the phone on our face) and sit there for a long time- sometimes even hours. We often tend to fall asleep with our phone beside us. In my room I have a night stand beside my bed, but for some reason I always go to sleep with my phone on my bed-often very close to my head.
My mom always tells me, “Don’t sleep with the phone by your head, it’ll cause cancer!” Now, every time I hear her say that, I wonder whether what she is saying is true, or it’s just because her intuition is so narrow that she, like most of us do, believe everything we hear. Newspapers, magazines and all other forms of media are always coming out with new phenomenon. One day, you’ll hear that drinking that extra cup of coffee will cause cancer, and the next day you’ll hear that drinking coffee is actually good for you!
There has and will always be skepticism when it comes to cellphones and our health. Just like any other technology, there always seems to be something good and bad about it, but is there really a correlation between having a cellphone close to your head and cancer?
After doing some research, I began to think that maybe my mom was right. I know that too much cellphone use is not good for you, but cellphones causing cancer, now that was something I truly never really considered. After scrolling through the scary google searches and reading into the articles more, I discovered some information. According to Camille Chatterjee of Health.com cellphones do give off electromagnetic radiation. But Chatterjee explained that the radiation that is emitted is small. So having a phone next to your head for the night is not going to give you cancer immediately. That small emittance of radiation is not exactly great for you though. That being said, I decided to look into what this electromagnetic radiation was exactly (Chatterjee 2014).
Whenever you go to the doctor and need to get an x-ray, the doctor will give you a jacket to slip on. Those jackets are called lead vests. They protect you from the same electromagnetic radiation that cellphone’s project, except x-ray radiation is ionized (Hull 2008). According to Janet Starr Hull of Janethill.com ionized radiation has a much greater chance of harming humans, so that is why we wear the vests to protect us. On the other hand, radiation from cellphones is non-ionized just like the radiation from your microwave. That means that exposure to this type of radiation is not terrible. So that makes me wonder why some people associate cancer with cellphones near your head if the radiation emitted is minimal and not life-threatening? The University of Twente explains in an article titled Working With Non Ionizing Radiation that if one person has too much exposure over time, then the threat increases and the chance of a disease like cancer is more likely. What I think everyone should take away from this is to try to keep cellphones away from your head and off (look at the picture below to see the difference in radiation in one’s head overtime due to cellphone use). If you must have it on, Alex Stadtner, author of an article called Cell Phone Safety Tips For Limiting Radiation urges that you have it on “airplane mode,” especially when you sleep. Cellphones close to your head CAN cause cancer overtime. Even if it’s not cancer, according to cancer.org’s article it could be a non-cancerous tumor, but either way avoid the risk of any kind of tumor! For more tips about how to reduce emitted radiation from cellphones, even beyond lying in bed with it near your head can be found HERE.
If microwaves and electromagnetic radiation are both non-ionized forms of radiation, then why is it that we focus so much on the use and closeness of cellphones to our faces, when microwaves have been around longer? This type of question is something I would answer if further research was conducted. I know that the average human does not use the microwave as much daily, but microwaves are something very commonly used, so the question now, do microwaves cause cancer?