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Do cell phones cause cancer?

      Let's face it, cell phones are critical to work/life balance. My cell allows me to handle work matters from home and family matters from work. But I do worry whether cell phones cause cancer? I also worry about my kids and their cell phone use.  (24 percent of 10 and 11-year-olds carry cell phones.)

    This month's Best Life Magazine has a special report with the results of several studies. The findings should encourage all of us to be more cautious with our cell use:

   * Mobile-phone user are twice as likely to develop malignant, difficult to treat brain tumors called gilomas, says a study of cell-phone users over 10 years published in the journal of Occupational Environmental Medicine

  * There's a link between the nonionizing radiation  caused by a cell phones electromagnetic fields(EMFs) and cancer, DNA damage and other diseases, says a report by a coalition of scientists and public-health experts.

* Cell phones give off radiation any time they're turned on so that they can communicate with base stations. The radiation is stronger and more frequent when you're talking or messaging.

* Researchers suspect a link to male infertility. When cell phones were set down for one hour in talk mode, next to sperm samples in test tubes, the sperm's motility and viability were significantly reduced. And, cell phone use while pregnant is linked to behavioral problems in children.

* Kids may be at more risk because their nervous systems are still developing. The association between childhood leukemia and exposure to EMFs like those from cell phones has led the International Agency for Research on Cancer to classify them as "a possible human carcinogen."

Here's how to reduce your exposure:

* Make calls only when you have strong reception, hang up before your phone heats up and store your phone away from your body when it's not in use.

* Find out the SAR or specific absorption rate for your phone. The SAR refers to the rate of radiation exposure from radio frequency and microwaves measured in watts per kilogram of tissue. The FCC limit on any cell is 1.6 watts per kilogram. To find the SAR value for your phone go to www.fcc.gov/cgb/sar. There's a list of which phones have the highest and lowest SAR value.

* Invest in a hands-free headset and limit the amount of time you spend talking on the phone. Use the speaker mode when possible and hold the phone about eight inches away from you. Also, limit  your use of Bluetooth devices. While it's true that they emit the least amount of radiation( only .0001 watts per kilogram) even that can add up fast.

* Make sure your kids opt for landlines when they're at  home and make sure they have a phone with a low SAR number.

* Since kids hold phones away from their bodies when texting, they're exposed to less radiation than when they have the phones to their ears. Make sure you your child keeps his cell phone turned off and stored in his backpack when it isn't in use.

Here's a scary quote from David Carpenter, director of the Institute for Health and the Environment at the University at Albany: "We are very concerned about teen cell-phone use, fearing that we face an epidemic of brain tumors 10 to 20 years from now, and there are so few are are raising warning flags."

So, what do you think? Will you change your cell phone habits?

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