carcinogens

  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. E-cigs cause lung damage

    If you're trying to quit smoking, you've got the right idea.

    But if you think smokeless "e-cigarettes" are a safer alternative or a tool to help you quit, your right idea is on the wrong track.

    Despite the marketing hype, these gimmicky battery-powered cigarettes haven't proven to be any safer than regular smokes -- and the latest research shows they come with plenty of risks of their own, including significant changes to the airways after just a few minutes of use.

    Greek researchers asked 30 otherwise healthy smokers to try e-cigarettes, then watched to see what happened to the airways.

    They didn't have to wait long: After just five minutes, the airways showed signs of inflammation, and breathing tests revealed that the passages were already undergoing constriction.

    The researchers say more studies need to be done to see what this means over the long term, but do yourself a favor: Don't wait around to find out.

    While short-term airway constriction and inflammation don't add up to rock-solid proof that e-cigs lead to long-term lung damage, it's not exactly an encouraging sign, is it?

    E-cigs are relatively new on the scene, but they've been popping up everywhere. And if you haven't seen one yet, you probably haven't been in any malls lately, where kiosks for the devices are popping up quicker than Cinnabon stands.

    The folks who work these kiosks will puff away on their e-cigs right there in the mall to show how "safe" it is -- releasing not stinky tobacco smoke, but odorless water vapor.

    They don't even call it smoking -- they call it "vaping."

    But while they claim the water vapor is a safer way to deliver nicotine, that doesn't make them safe -- and any implication to the contrary is pure puffery.

    Tests have found diethylene glycol, a highly toxic chemical used in antifreeze, as well as known carcinogens called nitrosamines and other dangerous chemicals in some e-cig solutions.

    Not exactly what I'd want to inhale.

    In addition, the e-cig solution -- often called "smoke juice" or "e-liquid" -- is unregulated, of highly inconsistent quality and often made overseas, in places like China.

    The only real safe alternative to smoking is not smoking. E-cigs might look different -- but in reality, it's just a whole lot of risk with a high-tech name.

    If you really want to quit, do it the right way... and for more on that, keep reading.

  3. How to turn a harmless tumor into a deadly cancer

    Most prostate cancers don't need to be treated because the disease won't kill or even hurt most of the men who get it. But there's one group of men who have more to worry about than the rest of us -- because for them, prostate cancer really can carry deadly risk.

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