If you’re the paranoid type, these new charts from The Environmental Working Group may be just what you’ve been looking for. They rate cell phones based on how much radiation they put out when placed to the ear. Cell phones emit radio-frequency radiation whenever you are using voice or data. This radiation is non-ionizing, but some groups claim there is a connection between cell phone use and cancer.
Among all phones the Samsumg Impression from AT&T had the lowest radiation output. It was closely followed by the Moto RAZR V8 for CellularOne. The Motorola MOTO VU204 and T-Mobile myTouch 3G both had the highest radiation levels. In the smartphone field, the Nokia 9300i had the lowest levels, and the Kyocera Jax S1300 was tied with the myTouch 3G for the highest.
If you don’t go in for the cell phone/cancer theory, the list may still be of some use. Just switch the ‘best’ and ‘worst’ labels, and consider the charts a measure of relative signal strength. Even if you are somehow giving yourself cancer, you’ll have really great signal while doing it. So,does cell phone radiation concern you?
A US Senate Subcommittee heard testimony Monday from cell phone safety researchers. The researchers said that more money was needed for… you guessed it, cell phone safety research. Their solution to this quandary is a one dollar government imposed tax on every mobile phone bill. These funds would go directly to further investigate the effects of cell phone use.
Devra Davis, of the University of Pittsburgh, claimed that additional study may support claims of mobile phones causing cancer. As a counterpoint, Linda Erdreich, of Exponent's Health Sciences Center for Epidemiology, cited current scientific studies demonstrating no causal effect. “The current scientific evidence does not demonstrate that wireless phones cause cancer or other adverse health effects," said Erdreich.
The safety researchers claim that cell phone radiation is causing damage to DNA, leading to cancer. Though, opponents are quick to point out that there is no known mechanism by which cell phones can damage DNA. Only two of the twelve senators on the committee managed to show up, so this probably isn’t going anywhere. If it were, would you be willing to foot the bill for additional research, or is it the manufacturer’s problem? Is it even necessary?
Did your surgery take longer than expected? If so, maybe your surgeon was looking up tips on Wikipedia. Sounds far fetched -- and that example surely is -- but according to a report in April by U.S. health care consultancy Manhattan Research, 50 percent of doctors turn to Wikipedia for medical information.
Part of the reason for this may be that Wikipedia entries often dominate search engine results. In an unrelated study in this month's Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association, it was discovered that Wikipedia articles appear in the top 10 results for more than 70 percent of medical queries across four different search engines.
"My overall impression is that the quality of health information varies wildly, almost ridiculously wildly," said Kevin Clauson, a pharmacologist at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. "If [a website] is treated as an authoritative source, and there's evidence that it isn't, then it's potentially dangerous."
On the positive side, several studies have found that Wikipedia's medical content is almost entirely free of factual errors in many cases, but the risk remains for "vandalism" by malicious users.
We've all used the web to research and help diagnose what might be causing that nagging ailment, whether it be related to sudden fatique or a new pain not associated with an obvious injury. But when you use the web in place of a doctor, do you tend to worry that your symptoms are indicative of a worst case scenario? If so, your real ailment might be cyberchondria.
Earlier this week, Microsoft researchers published the results of a study examining health-related web inquiries as well as a survey of the company's employees. The results of the study indicate that people who use search engines as a self-diagnosis tool often conclude the worst about whatever it is that ails them.
"People tend to look at just the first couple of results," said Eric Horvitz, an artificial intelligence researcher at Microsoft Research. "If they find 'brain tumor' or 'A.L.S.,' that's their launching point."
According to the study conducted by Horvitz, who holds a medical degree, and his fellow investigator Ryen W. White, a specialist in information retrieval technology, web searches for ailments like headaches and chest pain were equally or more likely to land surfers on pages describing dire conditions as benign ones. For someone who is suffering from a headache, search results would link the symptom to brain tumors just as often as they would with caffeine withdrawal, even though the chance of having a brain tumor is highly unlikely.
The researchers suggest that a combination of human nature to jump to worst-case conclusions combined with a reliance on web search rankings contribute to the tendency to be a cyberchondriac.
Does this describe you or anyone you know? Hit the jump and tell us.
If you develop a red or itchy rash on the side of your face that affects your cheek or ear, you may suffer from a skin allergy being called "mobile phone dermatitis," according to the British Association of Dermatologists. Unlike the brain cancer debate that typically occupies cellphone studies, the allergic reaction is based on extended physical contact with nickel surfaces.
"It is worth doctors bearing this condition in mind if they see a patient with a rash on the cheek or ear that cannot otherwise be explained," the study said.
While cellphones often come under scrutiny for various safety issues, doctors may finally have a warning worth heeding. According to the May Clinic, nickel is one of the most common causes of allergic contact dermatitis and can be found not only on mobile phones, but things like jewelry and belt buckles. Frequent texters are not immune either, as the study points out that, in theory, a rash could develop on the fingers if too much time is spent on mashing metal buttons.
The study used an MRI to measure the brain activity of a group of seniors while they performed simulated internet search tasks, and also as they read a book. According to Dr. Gary Small, the tests showed that “when older people read a simulated book page, we see areas of the brain activated… When they search on the Internet, they use the same areas, but there was much greater activation particularly in the front part, which controls decision-making and complex reasoning.”
Of course, greater brain activity is good for keeping sharp (hence the popularity of Nintendo’s Brain Age series of games) so this study means that searching the net could help keep you firing on all cognitive cylinders as you age. However, the increased activity was only found in those who had experience with searching the internet, so if you have any older relatives who are still net-illiterate, it might be time to give them a few lessons in the fine art of Googling.
The way things are shaping up, you might as well take your cell phone and toss it in a river. That is, if you put much stock into the most recent studies. Yesterday we learned that the quality of our little olympic swimmers (yes, even Maximum PC's sperm is hardcore) might turn out to be duds if forced to sit in close proximity to our cell phones while in talk mode, and in another blow to procreation, another study has emerged suggesting that mobile phone users under 20 years of age may be more susceptible to cancer.
Professor Lennart Hardell from the University Hospital in Orebo Sweden conducted the study and found a five-fold increase in particular types of cancer, including brain cancer (glioma) and cancer of the auditory nerve, among sub-20 year olds who use mobile phones. And when it comes to young children, he warns that the thinner and still developing skulls makes kids more susceptible to electromagnetic radiation.
This isn't the first time the safety of cell phone use has come into question, and likely won't be the last given the conflicting results. Last year a study in Denmark failed to show any connection between mobile phone use and the onset of cancer among the 420,000 participants involved.
Are cell phones safe? Hit the jump and post your thoughts.