LIFESTYLE

Can Smartphones Take A Toll On Your Health?

Smartphones, like iPhone or Android devices, have attractive features and user-friendly functions that make voice calls, text messaging, multimedia use (including music, video, cameras, and gaming), and among other capabilities readily available for use. Most of these pocket-sized smartphones are built light and compact. Carrying a smartphone may be as important as to carrying one’s wallet or house keys.

As the popularity of smartphones increases, families are owning more than one of these devices. In 2016, a Pew Research Center study noticed that a third of Americans live in a household with three or more smartphones. According to Statista.com, there will be 2.8 billion smartphone users worldwide by the year 2020!

Smartphones bring convenience and entertainment. There is also a dark side to the use of smartphones; thus, when purchasing cell phone devices, they usually come with a warning, advising of the potential risk to children and instruction of how to use them safely as stated in the manuals.

As many of us carry our phones near our bodies, we may not realize how cell phone devices work to affect our health. Some of these smartphones are ON and connected to a wireless network while being carried in our shirt or pants pocket, or even in a bra. Keeping the phone that closes to our body may exceed the federal guideline for exposure to radio frequency radiation.

The Federal Communication Commission recommends keeping our phones 5 to 25 millimeters (.20 to .98 inches) away, from our body depending on the model, to limit radio frequency exposure to safe levels.

According to recent research, there is a strong connection between a cell phone placed in ladies’ bras and the development of breast cancer. Additionally, men are also developing breast cancer from carrying their phones in their shirt pockets.

Moreover, another recent study shows that when cell phones were in use and located in close proximity to the men’s testes, sperm cells were damaged.

It is where we carry our cell phones for a long period and in high frequency that can cause the most harm. What may be overlooked is what happens when smartphones are in use our vision are in potential danger. Our eyes can develop a ‘dry eye’ condition that results in gritty, inflamed eyes. Apparently, being too strongly focused on the screen and forgetting to blink affect eye lubrication.

According to scientists at Charotar University of Science and Technology (CHARUSAT), when using smartphones over a long period of time, it can lead to permanent eye damage including cataracts (having cloudy eye lens that causes blurry vision which gradually worsens). They recommend that a smartphone should be kept as far away as possible from the eyes, as the eyes are receiving an exposure to a dosage of microwave radiation. Even if our smartphones are not in use, our eyes are still sensitive to microwave radiation from the cell phones being used by other people around us.

Professor Ved Vyas Dwivedi, head of the department of ECE at CHARUSAT, noted that “The wavelength of wireless signals (which is about 2 to 2.5 centimeters or .79 to .98 inches) used for cell phones and other wireless terminals matches with that received by the human eye. The dielectric constant (absorption capacity) of eye tissues is around 70 which is greater than unity (above 50). This means that the eye can absorb electromagnetic energy very quickly.”

He noted that the problem is not that the eye absorbs the energy, but rather there is no transmission out of the body once the heat is absorbed by the eye. Consequently, the prolonged use of cell phones can affect these parts of the eye: retina, sclera, lens, cornea, and vitreous humor.

Lloyd Morgan, Director of the Central Brain Tumor Registry of the United States, acknowledges that “There is every indication that cell phones cause brain tumors, salivary gland tumors, and eye cancer. Yet, because the cell phone industry provides a substantial proportion of research funding, this reality is hidden from the general public…It is time that fully independent studies be funded by those government agencies whose charter is to protect its citizens so that the truth about the very damaging health hazards of microwave radiation becomes clear and well-known.”

Understanding the truth of cell phone microwave radiation can be most helpful to protection from exposure. The total years of exposure and the intensity will eventually produce noticeable damages to the eyes and to the rest of our body.

Children and young people are most vulnerable because they are still growing and developing. Be mindful of the placement of their cell phones, the duration of usage or exposure to radiation, and take preventative measures.

The fact is too much of anything is never good and abstinence from advanced technological gadgets may be a challenge.

That said, one should consider reducing the harmful amount of cell phone radiation exposure and protect those eyes.

Here are 5 Tips to Reduce Cell Phone Radiation Exposure

  1. Use a headset or speaker instead of holding the phone up to your ear
  2. When in use, hold the phone away from your body
  3. Text more and talk less – Phones emit less radiation when sending a text rather than voice communication
  4. Call when the signal is strong – Fewer signal bars mean the phone must try harder to broadcast its signal. Research shows that radiation exposure increases dramatically when cell phone signals are weak
  5. Don’t store your phone in your pocket (or under your pillow) – Cell phone radiation and other electromagnetic fields (EMF) exposures at night can interrupt sleep cycles.

Source: Environmental Working Group  

Julie Liu, Readers Bureau, Fellow

Edited by Jesus Chan

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