Many young people slip cell phones inside their bras or pockets without a thought, but I worry if that is a safe practice and wonder if it could lead to health problems — such as cancer — in the future.
I have nine grandchildren. The oldest is 25 and the youngest is 4. All of them find cell phones fascinating. They love Facetiming with their Gigi as well as listening to music, watching YouTube videos and playing online games. It amazes me how adept they are at maneuvering their way around popup ads to get to where they want to go.
While I’m thankful they’re growing up to be technically savvy, I’m worried about them, too. It seems they’re tethered to their phones. The older ones don’t go anywhere without them. They stick them in their back pockets or backpacks for quick access, and I’ve even seen some of their friends pulling phones out of their bras. That worries me a lot.
There have been many articles and videos made regarding the dangers of cell phone radiation. There have also been just as many or more stating cell phones are safe. It’s frustrating that as both a consumer and a cancer survivor, I don’t know the entire truth.
Recently, I received a link to a video about the dangers of cell phones and a possible link to breast cancer. I watched intently as two women described their cell phone usage and later diagnosis with cancer. Both of those women had a regular habit of tucking their cell phones into their bras as they went about their daily routines. As they gave their short testimonials, I listened carefully, especially when both women said their oncologists believed their cancers were caused by an external source such as the cell phones.
Only one of my granddaughters is currently old enough to wear a bra and thankfully, she doesn’t own a cell phone yet. If she did, I’m sure she’d probably tuck it carefully in her bra as she went out to ride her bike or hang out with friends. She’s a tomboy and doesn’t like to carry purses.
But since she is getting older, I’m going to sit down and have a conversation with her about the possible dangers of carrying a phone in her bra. I want her to be aware of the possibility of developing cancer and do everything she can to avoid it.
Information in the video I watched explained how cell phones transmit signals via radio frequency. If a cell phone can transmit signals strong enough to reach a cell phone tower a mile or more away, that tells me it’s pretty powerful. And when one of the women in the video shared about noticing a visible redness on her breast after tucking a phone in her bra, I started to put two and two together. The phone had to be emitting harmful radiation.
Searching through my cell phone settings, I found a radio frequency exposure warning tucked under the “general” heading on my iPhone. Just beneath that setting was one titled “legal and regulatory settings” and below that, “RF exposure.” The warning advised reduction of exposure by using the hands-free option or by using headphones.
A link was provided giving information on SAR ratings. I had no idea what SAR ratings were until I clicked the link and found the acronym SAR (specific absorption rate), referred to “the rate at which the body absorbs RF energy.”
In 2011, the World Health Organization (WHO) determined that radiofrequency magnetic fields were “possibly carcinogenic” to humans based on an increased risk of malignant brain tumors associated with cell phone use.
That study was conducted more than 20 years ago and according to the video produced by the advocacy group Consumers for Safe Cell Phones, the FCC hasn’t updated guidelines for safe cell phone use since 1996. In August 2021, the CSCP (Consumers for Safe Cell Phones), filed a petition for the court to reconsider those guidelines and won. The United States Court of Appeals ruled the FCC’s decision to keep the outdated guidelines as arbitrary and capricious. Hopefully, there will be new guidelines in place soon. In the meantime, caveat emptor.
As a survivor of breast cancer, I feel it incumbent upon me to do whatever possible to inform, protect and guide my granddaughters toward a safe and healthy future. That means I won’t shy away from admonishing them when it comes to putting cell phones close to their bodies, especially their breasts.
There may not be definitive evidence that cell phones tucked in bras causes breast cancer, but the odds may lean that way. It took years and years for consumers to realize smoking can cause cancer. We don’t have years of stupidity and experimentation to waste wondering whether cell phones contribute to cancer. Why not we err on the side of caution and be glad we did?
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