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Cellphones: More harm than good?

By Kayode Ojewale

ARGUABLY, mobile phones have become a necessity for mankind. In today’s technological world, it may be hard to imagine life without mobile phones. While the device comes with innumerable benefits to the user, it also has disadvantages which might not be known to the user. Most people sleep with their phones beside or under their pillows and others keep their phones at arm’s length when in bed.

Cellphones

Many are not aware of the potential risks and long term effects of keeping mobile phones close to the head while asleep. An observational study has revealed that four out of every five mobile phone users check their phones within the first 15 minutes of waking up. This is true in its own sense.

Sometime last year, a landmark United States National Institutes of Health, NIH, study warned that cellphone radiations can cause cancers of the heart, brain and adrenal glands. Scientists suggest that men, in particular, should take precautions to minimize exposure of sensitive body areas to cell phone radiations.

A recent finding revealed that people who talk on the phone a lot with their phones held to their right ear are prone to memory impairment. Radiations from cell phones cause adverse health issues. This is because cell phones give off energy as Radiofrequency Electromagnetic fields, RF-EMFs, which carry information in the form of calls or text messages between phones and cellphone towers. Mobile phones work generally by transmitting and receiving radiofrequency microwave radiation. These radiations can travel into people’s bodies or be absorbed by the body when the phones are in use.

A radiologist at the University of Nigeria, UNN, Enugu, once said: “There is a continued fight between mobile phone companies and the medical research community where there has been clear evidence of an association between increased incidence of gliomas and consistent habit of holding your phone to the right ear.” Glioma is a type of tumour that occurs in the brain and spinal cord. Health experts generally advise mobile phone users to always receive calls with the left ear because using the right ear will directly affect the brain.

In a research study, it was shown that there is a strong correlation between brain dominance and the ear used to listen to a cellphone. The study summarily put it this way: If you’re a left thinker, chances are you use your right hand to hold your cellphone up to your right ear. This means that information received in the right ear is transmitted or transferred directly to the language-dominated left hemisphere of the brain. Just as we have the right side of the body being controlled by the left hemisphere of the brain.

Wireless base stations of mobile network providers may also pose some potential health effects given the emission of radiations. Those living or staying near base stations are advised to ascertain the level of radiation and make efforts to screen the radiation if they perceive danger. An American Journal of Engineering Research, AJER, 2017, revealed that:   “…People living close to base stations over a long period of time with or without cellphone, and also the heavy phone users with close proximity to the base stations are liable to have some potential health hazards such as fatigue, sleep disturbances, headaches, feeling of discomfort, difficulty in concentrating, depression, memory loss, visual disruptions, irritability, hearing disruptions, skin problems, cardiovascular disorders and dizziness”

Also read: How Mobile Classroom App Inspires easy learning’

Some health experts have warned against the prolonged use of mobile phones. For long calls, putting phones on speaker mode when answering such calls to prevent closeness to the head or ear, or using a hands-free device are the other alternatives to placing the mobile phone directly on the ear. Our cellphones should also be switched off at night. We are to completely keep cellphones away from our beds in order to forestall radiations emanating from the device. For those whose mobile phones function as their alarm clock, they may put the phone in aeroplane mode to disconnect network signals which attract radiations.

An official of the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, two years ago warned Nigerians against the use of substandard phones, saying the use was responsible for some cancer ailments. But NCC later debunked the report, saying it never claimed that mobile phones cause cancer.

NCC, therefore, insisted that mobile phones do not cause cancer. According to NCC, there is a parameter called Specific Absorption Rate, SAR, which has a threshold below which it is safe to use a phone, and all phones approved by the commission have SAR below the threshold mark which makes those phones safe for use.

In order to stay safe and healthy, whether or not cell phones cause cancer, avoid prolonged closeness of cellphones to the head or ear during long calls. Headsets, Bluetooth devices and other hands-free accessories may be adopted for use during calls, especially lengthy ones.

To be on a safer side, I suggest we do more of typing (text messages and chats) on our mobile phones than talking to prevent any likely health challenges that may arise from the emission of radiations from cellphones when close to the head region.

Vanguard

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