Thursday, June 2, 2011

The latest cancer risk (or just another scare)?

So cell phones can cause brain cancer.

Or not.

The World Health Organization released a study in which the agency listed cell phones as a "carcinogenic hazard."
"The biggest problem we have is that we know most environmental factors take several decades of exposure before we really see the consequences," said Dr. Keith Black, chairman of neurology at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.
WHO based their findings on a 2010 survey of cell phone use among cancer victims. The survey asked participants to estimate their cell phone usage over the previous ten years. The problem with that methodology is that it assumes cell phone usage causes cancer and it doesn't differentiate between heavy and light cell phone usage.

A Danish study followed 420,000 healthy Danes around and tracked both their cell phone usage and cancer rates and found no link between cell phone use and cancer risk.

Of course cell phone usage might raise one's risk factor of being stricken by cancer. But so might playing out in the sun, drinking artificial sweeteners, breathing exhaust fumes and just living a long time.

In the end, we just don't know. That may be a bit unsettling to some, but it's about par for the course when it comes to assessing future risks based on current behavior.

The biggest danger of cell phone use isn't cancer. It's focusing more on a phone call than the road when driving.

Some experts recommended people use a headset or earpiece if they are worried about the possible health dangers of cellphones. "If there is a risk, most of it goes away with a wireless earpiece," said Otis Brawley, chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society. 
Brawley said people should focus on the real health hazards of cellphones. "Cellphones may cause brain tumors but they kill far more people through automobile accidents," he said. 
Is this "shattering" news that using something might cause you to get some disease really going to change the way you conduct your daily business? Are you going to think before picking up that cell phone when it rings? Are you going to put the call on speaker and shout into the phone sitting on the desk?

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