brain tumors

  1. Do cellphones cause brain tumors?

    I remember 12 years ago a friend of mine was scheduled for thyroid cancer surgery. An acupuncturist had told him he just needed acupressure, so he called to get my opinion.

    I told him of course he needed the surgery.

    He was relatively young, had no strong family history of the disease and no exposure to any major source of radiation... except for one. As we spoke, I found out he was using his cellphone for buying and selling for 8 hours or more every day!

    Keep in mind the thyroid gland is in the throat region, right next to where he was holding that cellphone -- blasting it with electromagnetic radiation all day long.

    I presumed all that cellphone use played a role in his cancer, and the studies since then have only made me even more certain.

    Now, Britain's Health Protection Agency claims its own review of the research finds no link between cellphones and cancer -- but I just don't buy it. They don't seem to buy their own conclusion, either, since they also cautioned against excessive cellphone use by children.

    If cellphones are so safe, why would they need to caution anyone against using them?

    Answer: They're not safe. One major study found that people who use cellphones the most over a decade have a 40 percent increase in the risk of a potentially deadly brain tumor called a glioma.

    Another study found that cellphones change brain activity in the region closest to the phone. It's not clear what this means yet -- but it's proof they do something to the brain.

    There are enough question marks now that the World Health Organization added cellphones to its list of possible carcinogens.

    Despite all that, I know most people will give up their cellphones when they give up their cars, hairdryers, and credit cards. In other words, it's just not going to happen.

    If that's the case for you, then take a few simple steps to protect yourself (and make sure the rest of the family follows suit).

    First, never hold the phone right against the ear. I know some people use Bluetooth devices to separate the phone from the ear, but those give off their own signals.

    Instead, use the speakerphone or at least a pair of wired headphones with a microphone in them. Some new phones come with these.

    Don't keep them right against your body when you're not using them, since there's evidence they might actually weaken bone, which could increase your risk osteoporosis.

    And since studies have shown they can affect sperm quality, men should never keep them close to their privates.

    Finally, when you get to your office or home, turn the phone off completely and switch to the landline.

  2. Cell phones in new cancer link

    OK, confession time: I don't go anywhere without my iPhone.

    But I use it more for email than the phone -- and when I do make calls, it's always with the earphones.

    And I mean always.

    There are enough studies linking cellphones to brain tumors that I don't want one of these things pressed against my head for ANY length of time -- and when you hear the latest news, you might want to take a few precautions yourself.

    I'll have some tips on that in a moment.

    First, the big news that you've probably heard by now: The cancer arm of the World Health Organization has added cellphones to its list of possible carcinogens, where it joins well-recognized hazards such as lead, gasoline fumes, DDT, and chloroform.

    Not exactly the kind of company you want your constant companion to keep.

    The WHO's International Agency for Research on Cancer says there just aren't enough long-term studies out there proving these things are safe -- and the limited research we do have is strong enough to sound the alarm.

    For example, a study last year found that people who used cellphones the most had double the risk of brain gliomas, a form of tumor. And six of eight cellphone studies reviewed by the WHO in 2009 found that heavy talkers were up to 39 percent more likely to get tumors.

    Scary? Definitely. But here's the good news: You don't have to unplug everything and move into a cave.

    You don't even have to give up your phone -- just make small changes to the way you use it:

    1)Never put a cellphone to your ear. Instead, used headphones or earbuds with a built-in microphone. Some phones, like my iPhone, come with these. You could also use the speakerphone... but that's probably not a good idea on the train or in your local coffee shop.

    2)Keep the phone in a bag or briefcase -- not on your body. You might find it handy to be literally joined at the hip, but other studies have linked cellphones to bone loss on the hip and pelvis, as well as low sperm quality in men.

    3)When you're at home or in your office, forward your cellphone to your landline -- and then turn it off.

    4)And whatever you do, keep all cellphones away from kids. Their thinner skulls allow radiation to penetrate deeper -- putting them at an even greater risk.

    See? No dramatic lifestyle changes... just a little less convenience in exchange for a lot less risk.

    That's a trade I'll make every time.

  3. Cancer alternative goes mainstream

    It's a shock right to the heart of the cancer system: An FDA panel has signed off on a new device that could forever change how the deadliest brain tumors are treated. There are no drugs... no chemo... no surgery... and best of all, almost no side effects.
  4. Calling in a warning

    A major study run by the World Health Organization found that long-term use of cell phones may present a "significantly increased risk" for brain tumors.

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