The University of Pittsburgh’s Cancer Research Institute has issued a very important message regarding cell phone usage. In a memo sent to 3,000 faculty and staff, Dr. Ronald Herberman (director of the Research Institute), says to limit cell phone use because of the possible risk of cancer. This message is contrary to a multitude of other studies that see no link between cell phone usage and cancer. Even the Food and Drug Administration has expressed a certain lack of public worry on this topic.
Dr. Herberman admits that this warning is based on unpublished data, but believes we should act now in order to mitigate cancer risk. He has this to say:
“Really at the heart of my concern is that we shouldn’t wait for a definitive study to come out, but err on the side of being safe rather than sorry later,” Herberman said.
His recommendations include a few things targeted to both kids and adults. For children, Dr. Herberman says to limit cell phone use for emergencies only because their brains are still developing. In terms of adults, he says to keep the phone away from the head and use the speakerphone or a wireless Bluetooth headset. Dr. Heberman goes on to say that we should even limit usage in public places because it exposes the risk to those around you.
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In terms of the legitimacy of this study, an AP article on this subject offers this:
A 2008 University of Utah analysis looked at nine studies — including some Herberman cites — with thousands of brain tumor patients and concludes “we found no overall increased risk of brain tumors among cellular phone users. The potential elevated risk of brain tumors after long-term cellular phone use awaits confirmation by future studies.”
Studies last year in France and Norway concluded the same thing.
“If there is a risk from these products — and at this point we do not know that there is — it is probably very small,” the Food and Drug Administration says on an agency Web site.
It sounds like the jury is still out on whether or not cell phones can cause cancer or not. More research must be done before I can make a call either way. I would encourage the use of wireless devices and speakerphones when using your cell phone, especially when traveling in a automobile. I would also advise limiting cell phone use among children. It’s a risk too big to take, especially when we do not know the consequences.