For years, you've heard that cellphones are safe. Sure, there have been studies that have shown otherwise -- but the moment they've come out, the talking heads have rushed to dismiss them.
Now, new research again links cellphones to brain tumors. And again, you wouldn't know it from much of the media coverage.
First, the part you're missing: Regular cellphone users -- people who use them just 15 hours a month, or 30 minutes a day -- have between double and triple the risk of a brain tumor over five years, according to the study in British Occupational and Environmental Medicine.
But even the study itself seems to be hiding this conclusion, because by the researchers' definition, "regular" cellphone users had no higher risk of a tumor at all.
How'd they get away with that? It's all in the definitions.
They defined a "regular" cellphone user as someone who's on the device just once a week, and those who used the cellphones for 15 hours a month were considered "heavy" users.
And by those definitions, only "heavy" users faced the higher tumor risk.
Pretty tricky, huh?
I don't know many people who pony up money for voice and data plans just to use the thing once a week, so I think it's pretty safe to say that 15 hours a month is practically nothing for many people.
Some of my kids' friends seem to be on them 15 hours a day!
Even many adults have gotten rid of their landlines and use only cellphones now -- and combined with unlimited voice plans, they're on them all the time and certainly use them for 15 hours a month or more.
But you don't have to get rid of your cell completely. Just be smart about how you use it -- and I've got three simple tips that can do just that for you.
First, never hold a cellphone to your head. The increased risk is almost certainly caused by the radiation emitted from the phone -- a type of radiation similar to what's emitted by microwaves, which is a known carcinogen.
When you hold a phone against your ear, you're aiming that radiation right at your brain.
Cellphone makers say the answer is to hold the phone a couple of inches from your ear instead of right up against it, but good luck trying to hear your callers that way.
Instead, get a set of headphones with a built-in microphone. Many phones, especially smartphones, come with them -- and most people don't use them. Use them, or invest in a better pair.
You'll hear your callers better, they'll hear you better and you'll minimize the risk to your brain.
If you're in a quiet room, you can even use your the speakerphone function.
Second, don't keep the phone in a pocket or on your hip, or anywhere else on your body, as emerging evidence shows they can harm fertility and even cause bone loss when they're attached to you all day long.
And finally, I would also suggest not getting rid of your landline just yet. Use it at home instead of your cell, and not just for health reasons.
In the event of an emergency such as a natural disaster, landlines are much more likely to remain functional than cellphones.