Lots of eyebrow-raising headlines this past week regarding a World Health Organization pronouncement that cell phones may cause cancer. Looking at the details, however, one can rest a little easier. WHO didn’t undertake any recent study on the subject. It only reviewed existing studies. And you also have to consider the source: WHO is an arm of the United Nations. With most of its membership consisting of left-leaning governments, the UN isn’t exactly impartial when it comes to things that big bad corporations manufacture, in this case cell phones.
I’m still inclined to use the speakerphone – not necessarily because of the cancer question but because the radiation or electromagnetic waves of the phone give me a bit of a queasy feeling when holding it up to my head. One thing I do know: whatever is emanating from the phone isn’t cancer-causing radiation like gamma rays or the like. It’s probably just heat radiation. And last I checked, heat doesn’t cause cancer.
The Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan prompted me to give myself a crash course in radiation. Radiation is definitely not necessarily the same as radioactivity. There are two kinds of radiation: ionizing, and non-ionizing. Ionizing is when the electrons break away from the atoms, which then can damage cell molecules and thus cause cancer. Examples include gamma rays and x-rays.
Non-ionizing radiation is when the electrons move around within the atom, but don’t break out of it. They therefore don’t damage other living tissue. Examples of non-ionizing radiation include light, heat, radio waves, microwaves, and electromagnetic radiation emitted by power lines, microwave ovens, and cellular phones.
That explains why, according to an article in today’s WSJ, medical science “lacks a theory of how mobile signals might lead to the cellular mutations that cause cancer”. With no electrons breaking out of atoms, how could cell phone radiation ever cause cancer?
I got hold of a radiation detector, aka Geiger counter, and confirmed the absence of any increase in ionizing radiation from cell phones. When holding the radiation detector up to my cell phone during a live call, it detected no increase in gamma rays (i.e. ionizing radiation) at all. The same held true for my microwave oven and computer.
Even with somewhat greater exposure to ionizing radiation such as medical x-rays and low-level nuclear radiation, your risk of getting cancer is practically statistically insignificant.
Even so, I still use the speakerphone. Only because of the heat, or whatever is causing the queasy feeling.