There has been a raging debate over whether cell phones – or more specifically electromagnetic radiation that they emit – up a person's cancer risk. The latest chapter: Ronald Herberman, director of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, this week warned consumers to limit exposure to cell phone radiation—and alerted parents to beware of possible effects on their kids' developing brains. Although the evidence remains controversial, he is convinced that the radiation poses a risk to human health. As he pointed out, a number of countries, including France, Germany and India, have already issued such warnings to their citizens.
Herberman outlined 10 ways to reduce exposure. Among them: reduce cell phone use, use a hands-free earpiece, switch ears while chatting to limit radiation concentration in one spot, and avoid using mobile phones in public places to limit second-hand radiation.
In particular, he cautions parents about the possible effects of cell phone radiation on children. He indicates that kids should only be allowed to use these devices in cases of emergency, as their developing brains are more likely to be susceptible to possible side effects. He said recent studies indicate that “living tissue is vulnerable to electromagnetic fields within the frequency bands used by cell phones.”
Worried? Perhaps you should be. But that doesn’t mean you should hang up your cell phone altogether, Herberman says. As he noted in his memo, "Our society will no longer do without cell phones." But he believes there's enough biological data to indicate that consumers should take precautions.
Herberman also called on the cell phone industry to improve current technologies to limit radiation risks.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration did not respond to requests for comment, but the agency says on its website that no clear link exists between cell phone usage and cancer.