Source: Saudi Gazette: http://www.saudigazette.com.sa/index.cfm?method=home.con&contentid=20121227147265
Too much cell phone usage could affect your health
Last Updated : Thursday, December 27, 2012 5:53 PM
In today”™s world having a cell phone has become an urgent necessity and not just an added luxury. In Saudi Arabia, everyone has a cell phone, starting from nine year olds. Some people even have two; one for work and one for social purposes. Although the trend has been increasing worldwide, it has been increasing exponentially here in the Kingdom.
A report by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development shows that there are 4 billion cell phone users across the globe, with Saudi Arabia coming in first as the country with the largest number of cell phone users worldwide.
The report revealed that there are 180 cell phones for every 100 residents in the Kingdom; a number which speaks for itself. Cell phone usage is also on the rise among teenagers and children.
How may excessive cell phone usage affect our health as a nation? What is considered safe or moderate usage of cell phones? How many of us are guilty of chatting away on the cell phone for half an hour, even though we were at home and could have easily used the landline?
The Saudi Medical Journal recently reported a study conducted by the College of Medicine in King Saud University that showed prolonged usage of cell phones by participants was associated with a number of health problems. Those who were frequent users of their cell phones suffered more fatigue, headaches, dizziness, tension, and sleep disturbances than the less frequent users.
Researchers of this study concluded that the use of cell phones is a risk factor for health and they further suggested that long term or excessive use of cell phones should be avoided through health awareness campaigns.
“More studies are needed to determine the negative effects of electromagnetic radiation emitted from cell phones on the human body.
However, we have already detected some health problems linked to excessive usage of cell phones, which include headaches, earaches, ringing in the ears, and heat, sensitivity, and irritation around the ear.
“Unfortunately, there is a disappointing lack of awareness of the correct and wise usage of cell phones in Saudi society, especially among the youth,” said Dr. Muhammad Zahran, ear, nose, and throat specialist at King Fahd General Hospital in Jeddah.
“A single conversation over the cell phone should be limited to absolutely no more than three to five minutes, and the cell phone should be used only when necessary,” recommended Zahran.
When talking on the cell phone for social and friendly purposes, remember the three-minute doctor”™s rule, otherwise you should use the landline.
Studies from the United States have also pointed to other ill effects of excessive use of the cell phone. According to research undertaken by the Electromagnetic Academy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, cell phones disrupt sleep patterns, especially the light phases of sleep.
Radiation from cell phones adversely affects the phases of sleep that are most important for repairing the body and mind after the daily routine. Also, headaches were more prevalent in people exposed to cell phones during their sleep.
“There is much controversy and several claims surrounding the issue of excessive cell phone usage and diseases, such as brain cancer. Even if there is no clear cut scientific evidence that implicates cell phones to serious health disorders, there is no harm in taking simple, precautionary steps to reduce our exposure to the electromagnetic radiation given off from these devices,” said endocrinologist, Dr. Abdulrahman Jandali.
Here are some tips to follow to keep your usage of cell phones under control and to prevent health complications resulting from extreme use of this technology.
1. Use speakerphone
To keep the phone away from your head, use speakerphone. Every inch that you can distance the phone away from your body reduces the amount of radiation you are absorbing.
2. Use wired headset or earphones
If your cell phone comes with wired headset, you may use it to keep the phone further away from your body. Although the headset may still transmit radiation through the wire ”” it is a lower level.
3. Alternate between the sides of the head used on the cell phone
When you have no choice but to place the phone near your head, switch ears regularly while talking on the cell phone. This may limit prolonged exposure on one side, which has been linked to increased risk of brain cancer on the side of the head where the phone is usually held.
4. Avoid using phone in tight spaces
Delay your phone calls to a later time when you are in an elevator, train or car. Moreover, using a cell phone while driving endangers yourself and others on the road.
5. Notice the phone signal
Avoid making calls when the signal is weak and the cell phone has one bar of reception as the electromagnetic radiation increases as it searches for a signal.
6. Do not put the phone near your bed
Buy an old-fashioned alarm clock and quit the unhealthy habit of using your cell phone as an alarm to wake you up in the morning. Do not put the phone near your bed, particularly near your head position. Electromagnetic fields can reduce the production of melatonin in the body, which may lead to an increased risk of cancer and other diseases.
7. Keep phone conversations as short as possible
If you expect that your conversation is going to be long, use a landline.