Just How Cancerous Are Cell Phones?

This morning, I awoke - as I sometimes do - cradling my cell phone. That's right: I'll, on occasion, sleep with my phone, but not necessarily because of abject loneliness. As one of many inert, electronic devices tasked with proctoring various elements of my quotidian existence, my cell phone tends to be the most reliable of alarm clocks; thus, often I'll fall asleep clutching the rectangular module that is the first to tell me at dawn that's it time to go to work.

Though I can understand that even in this state of near-total digital biosynthesis, this behavior may be considered strange, it was on this particular morning that I decided to do some news-sleuth fact-checking on the question many of us are always wondering when we're mashing a mini-computer to our heads at an ever-increasing, inhuman frequency: Is my phone going to give me brain cancer?

Before we investigate our head-health here, let's get abreast of the subject with how cell phones may indeed be linked to cancer of the, well, breast. Last November, KTVU's (Oakland, CA) report claimed that, "some doctors say they're seeing evidence of breast cancer that could be linked to where some women keep their mobile phones."

For good or ill, women are apt to put all kinds of things in their over-the-shoulder-boulder-holders. But, one twenty-one-year-old woman who spoke with KTVU discovered that not only did she develop breast cancer after regularly keeping her phone tucked in her bra... but the cancerous regions appeared exactly where she kept the said phone against her skin.

Another woman, thirty-nine year-old Donna Jaynes, reported the same tragic results to KTVU, revealing her cancer appeared "[a]ll in this area right here, which is where I tucked my cellphone... I thought cellphones were safe. I was under the impression that they were."

With new bras on the market designed with custom-fit pockets exclusively for this brand of intimate cell-phone-lugging, at least one doctor told KTVU that, "I would never wear a cellphone immediately next to my body and I would advise all women not to do that."

She went on to warn younger women that they could be more in danger due to their bodies being "in early evolution" and thus "more sensitive to changes."

ABC's News Medical Unit concurred with the grim notion that younger people are at more risk of affliction from cell phones when, last April, they decried a previous study that debunked there being such a link at all.  

The source of ABC's report was the Environmental Health Trust - a watchdog group that investigates possible cancer-causing elements of our daily environment. The EHT called the 2011 study "sloppy... There's every indication that this study actually found that children have a doubled risk of brain cancer... For them to just state that we don't think there's a problem is, for me [author of EHT letter, senior research fellow Lloyd Morgan], quite mystifying."  

Of course, the author of the contentious study - Martin Roosli - immediately lashed back at Morgan and the EHT, "mystified" himself by the claim of the watchdog group's being "independent," since the group's funding - rebuffs Roosli - is based on donations.

Roosli also assiduously added that Morgan and the EHT provided no explanations for their claims of foul play qua his study.

In what they referred to as a "setback to lawyers," BRG last December came right out to report that, indeed, "Cell phones still aren't causing cancer," citing a recent study similar to that made a year earlier and devalued by the aforementioned EHT.

The final word on the subject (for now), from Mayo Clinic oncologist Timothy Moynihan, MD , is a not-too-surprising ambiguous one.

Do cell phones cause cancer? Moynihan agrees it's a "controversial" topic, detailing various conflicting statements made in the past (such as the fact that brain tumors have been on the rise since 1970s... and yet cell phones did not exist in those early years).

He also makes mention of one study that followed nearly a half-million cell phone users over a twenty-year period that found no evidence of a link.

But, before you take a deep breath of relief (watch out for the carcinogenic smog, of course), Moynihan reminds us that though there's currently no real evidence about the link between our phones and cancer, we may still want to limit usage... just in case.

Might just be time for me to invest in an alarm clock. 

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