Cell phones : Do they affect your health ?

The last few decades have witnessed an exponential rise in the number of cell phone users. Remember the old days when getting a single landline number used to be an achievement? Today, a large number of people are carrying more than one mobile in their pockets. There has been occasional outcry about the harmful effect of radiation that may be associated with use of cellphones.

Are mobile phones harmful? Pic: Wikimedia commons

It is in this context, it would be helpful to understand the radiation effect from a mobile and its implication on health issues. Firstly, the radiation that is emitted is in category of low Radiofrequency. The radiation that is known to cause ill effects is ionising radiation as found in X Rays. Cancer is believed to be caused by factors that affect DNA changes. Most of the Research work done so far fails to associate radiofrequency emission from mobiles with development of cancer.

However, it is advised that patients with certain implants and devices like pacemakers might face some effects due to electromagnetic interference. It is advised that patients on pacemakers hold the mobile on the ear opposite to the implant. It is also advised that they should not carry a turned on mobile close to implant i.e. a shirt or jacket pocket. Use of hands free would also be helpful, if mobile is kept in trouser pocket.

Although, the scientific evidence available today does not associate significant health risks, it must be noted that the studies conducted have been based on limited usage of cellphones. Hence it is recommended that following safety measures be taken to guard against unforeseen risks :

  • If continuous usage is expected it is better to use hands free and keep cell phones away from ears. This is more important in case of usage of cell phone by children.    
  • In case any device like pacemaker is used, it is advisable not to keep the cell phones in shirt pocket.
  • It goes without saying, that use of cell phone while driving needs to be discouraged, since it is not only a question of hands being busy, but also distraction which may cause accidents.⊕
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About Mukul Saxena 34 Articles
Col (Retd) Dr Mukul Saxena has over 30 years of cross-functional expertise in healthcare, both in public and private sectors.