Best of Beth Bales: Time to Hang Up the Cell Phone?

Will a study linking cancer and cell phone usage alter your phone habits?

  • Editor's note: This Beth Bales column originally was published June 2, 2011, on Geneva Patch. We're re-publishing it because (a) Beth is on vacation this week and (b) Rick is on vacation this week. Of course, you can always still reach me on my cell phone ... :)


Once again reports indicate there could be a link between cell phones and cancer. 

And scientists, in calling cell phones possible cancer-causing agents, have put phones in the same category, according to the Associated Press, as DDT, gasoline engine exhaust and coffee.

The panel said there was limited evidence that cell phone use was linked to two types of brain tumors, but said evidence was inadequate to draw conclusions for other cancers. The assessment now goes to the World Health Organization and national health agencies, which may issue guidance on use of the phones.

OK, how many people out there in Patchland have cell phones? You two who don’t, lower your hands.

And—how many of your kids use cell phones the vast majority of the time? Does that concern you? It does me, I confess. 

I remember a story from years ago linking cell phones and cancer. It was headline-creating, for a bit, and then went away, helped mightily by the cell phone industry. 

That was then, when most people still used their landlines for most calls. 

And this is now. The CTIA–The Wireless Association (the International Association for the Wireless Telecommunications Industry) says that as of December, 26.6 percent of US households are wireless only and that that are nearly 303 million subscribers, compared to 109.5 million a decade earlier. (It will come as no surprise to anyone observing people texting, texting, texting everywhere that as of December, monthly text messages totaled 187.7 BILLION, compared to 9.8 billion five years earlier.)

Will this newest study change habits? I asked online, but people must be on their phones instead, as I received no responses. 

My eldest daughter pointed out that these studies can also say tomatoes cause cancer, and questioned the authenticity of the risk. But she added she’d consider using a Bluetooth device, if that were deemed to be a good ay to cut the risk. 

A teen-ager allowed that she’d try to text more and use her phone less. 

And Kyle Gesell of Geneva is ahead of the game. The 18-year-old already turns his phone off every night and places it on the other side of the room ... just in case.

A friend pointed out that research indicates the incidence of these cancers is still quite low. “I think the MUCH HIGHER danger of heavy cell phone use comes from people not paying attention to their surroundings, walking out in front of car traffic, knocking older people over on the sidewalk, etc.,” she said.  

Point well taken. Cancer, distracted driving, distracted texting ... It’s enough to make a person leave his or her phone at home. ... 


Meris Michaels January 06, 2012 at 10:24 PM
We must protect ourselves - especially children - from the hazards of wireless technology, following the WHO declaration that cell phones and the radiation they emit are possibly carcinogenic. The Swiss consumer magazine, “Bon à Savoir” has published a warning against the dangers of cell phones. “Do not telephone in transport vehicles”, “shorten to the maximum your conversation in order to reduce the dose (of radiation) absorbed.” It is the responsibility of parents, schools and doctors to inform children about the dangers of cell phones. A risk exists! France, India, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom have banned or limited use of cell phones in children under 12 years of age. According to some experts (www.artac.info), prolonged cell phone use can lead to early onset Alzheimer's. For the large re-insurance company, Swiss Re, electromagnetic fields constitute the highest risk (27th on a scale of 1 to 33) above mad cow disease (26.5). As early as 2005, Swisscom, in a patent request, admitted that there is a health risk. The Geneva authorities deny risks to health, even for children. Wi-Fi exists in patients' rooms at HUG. The mayor favors this technology. There are 100,000 users of Wi-Fi in the city. Antennas are being installed on rooftops where apartment co-owners are compensated by operators (in ave. Wendt, SFR. 25,000 per year). Geneva's inhabitants remain ignorant and passive about health risks.


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