Cell phone radiation: Truth or fiction?

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

Q. I've been reading a lot about the radiation that supposedly comes from cell phones. Is there anything I can do to reduce the amount of exposure I receive?

A. A recent report authored by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), includes mobile phone use in the same “carcinogenic hazard” category as lead, gasoline engine exhaust and chloroform. (Isn't that just peachy?)

Any radiation risk associated with cell phone usage emanates from the cellular transmitter itself, so reducing the amount of time your phone is turned on and near your body (less than an inch away) are recommendations most experts suggest. In addition to that:

1. Use the speaker when possible. If you hold it a few inches from your mouth, pointing the top of the phone away from you will reduce your exposure to any radiation emanating from the device's antenna.

2. Use a wired or wireless headset, but don't put the phone in your pocket while it's being used or you will defeat the purpose. Distance from your body is the key, so place the phone on a table, desk, etc., while on a call. Along the same line, walking around day and night with a bluetooth headset dangling from your ear like some high-tech Zombie is not well advised, though it certainly is attractive.

3. Avoid pressing the phone to your ear when the signal is weak. A weak signal from a cell tower causes the transmitter in your handset to crank up its power. If you have to keep saying, “Can you hear me now?” try saying, “I'm starting to glow so I'll have to talk to you later.”

4. Send a text message or email instead of placing a phone call with the phone pressed against your ear. If you aren't into texting, you might want to consider it. It's fast, easy and efficient.

5. If you know you won't be using your phone for a period of time, turn it off completely or place it in Airplane Mode, which turns off the cellular transmitter. (On the iPhone, tap Settings > Airplane Mode.)

The above suggestions are simply precautionary measures for anyone concerned about the conflicting and confusing information that continues to circulate about the risks of cancer from cell phones. They may be completely harmless, but then again, there was a time when we believed there were health benefits to smoking. Check it out at http://bit.ly/cZNXkL.

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