June 16th, 2010
10:14 AM ET
By Elizabeth Landau
Stores in San Francisco, California, must provide information how much radiation gets emitted by the phones they sell, according to a law that the Board of Supervisors approved on Tuesday.
The rule, expected to gain final approval next week, would go into effect in February 2011. This makes San Francisco the first city to enact such a policy.
This announcement comes in the wake of controversy over results from the large Interphone study, sponsored by the World Health Organization, that looked at a possible link between cell phones and brain cancer.
June 15th, 2010
12:01 AM ET
By Danielle Dellorto
Critics are speaking out against the the controversial Interphone cell-phone safety study released last month.
U.S. researcher Lloyd Morgan presented a report in Seoul, South Korea this week, challenging Internphone’s findings at the Bioelectromagnetics Society’s annual meeting. Morgan’s presentation is based on his re-evaluation of the Interphone study. He says it emphasizes several design flaws.
“The Interphone study is giving people false hope. Most people only hear the headline, Cell phones don’t cause cancer’ yet the devil is in the details,” Morgan, Senior Research Fellow at the Environment Health Trust, said. ““When I read study papers, I look for what they are not saying – and this study isn’t saying a lot.”
June 9th, 2010
09:10 PM ET
By Leslie Wade
Blood pressure? Check. Weight? Check. Cholesterol levels? Check. Driving habits? What?
A doctor in Boston is urging her colleagues to talk to their patients about the potential health consequences of talking on the phone or texting while driving.
In an article published in the New England Journal of Medicine, Dr. Ann N. Ship writes that doctors should have the conversation with patients during annual exams.
The Assistant Professor of Medicine at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston writes that mobile device usage is a growing cause of automobile accidents in the United States.
You can read Ship's article here.
June 10th, 2009
12:11 PM ET
By Danielle Dellorto
They say the first step in breaking any addiction is admitting you have a problem. For years I’ve brushed off my husband’s “intervention” attempts. But lately I’ve begun to experience the physical side effects of my addiction (more on that later) and it’s forced me to think about how often I get my “fix.’”
Turns out, my husband was right all along.
It’s the last thing I look at before I go to bed; it even sleeps next to me on the nightstand. I set my alarm 20 minutes early so I can read and respond to e-mails before I get in the shower each morning. I’ve pulled over while driving to answer an e-mail and, yes, my whole day feels out of whack if I’ve forgotten my trusty device at home.
I know I’m not alone. Look around at the mall, at a restaurant, at a baseball game and you’ll see most adults with their devices out.
It's not always work related. As technology advances, our phones have become personal computers – we’re tweeting (follow me: @daniellecnn),updating our Facebook status, looking up movie times, and refreshing our favorite Web sites to see what’s happening while we’re out and about.
Wireless devices aren’t the Antichrist of course, but too much of any good thing can take a toll both mentally and physically.
It may sound silly to say out loud, but my thumb really hurts! My left thumb aches more than the right. Sometimes I feel a shooting pain at the base; other times it just throbs. These are classic symptoms of tendinitis and arthritis, and doctors say they’re a side effect of my addiction.
The overuse of motion from typing for hours primarily with your thumb causes a lot of undo stress and inflammation. The thumb has one less joint than the rest of the fingers so that may explain why it’s more sensitive to injury than our other three-jointed digits. Experts say the easy cure for mild pain caused by overuse is simple – don’t use it as much! “I usually find that if a patient was to just reduce the workload or reduce the repetitive nature of this condition, their symptoms will resolve,” said hand surgeon Dr. Keith Raskin of New York University Medical Center.
Being a pain in the thumb is one thing, but what about the toll wireless devices may be taking on our social lives?
I use to think of myself as a master juggler. Pretty proud I could balance my role as the ultimate wife and employee flawlessly around-the-clock via my Blackberry! But then my one day my husband started to literally thank me for leaving my Blackberry in the room during our vacation. A day of my full, undistracted attention was a treat for him.
What a reality check. Guess I’m not so great at “juggling” as I thought. But I am getting better. I no longer jump to check my device every time it buzzes at night and I don’t bring it to the dinner table anymore either (baby steps!). I did ask him why he never flat out told me how much my antics bothered him. He said he had told me several times. Apparently, I was typing away at the time and only half-listening. Yikes! Sorry about that, honey.
So now I want to hear your story! Is your thumb achy too? What works to relieve your pain? Is being connected to your wireless device 24/7 taking a toll on your social life? What’s your advice?
May 28th, 2008
12:09 PM ET
By Dr. Sanjay Gupta
Last night, I was part of a fascinating discussion on "Larry King Live" about cell phones and their health risks. (watch) To be clear, most of the established scientific community thinks there is no reason for concern. There were, however, some strong voices on each side of the issue, including neurosurgeon Vini Khurana from Australia. He is convinced, after looking at hundreds of studies, that not only do cell phones cause health problems such as brain tumors, but also they will eventually be considered a bigger health risk than asbestos and even cigarettes.
Now, I expected a staunch defense from the American Cancer Society, but instead I heard a more tepid response from Dr. Michael Thun. His bottom-line conclusion is that the studies that currently exist don't show any reason for concern – but – the studies aren't definitive in showing that they are safe either. Not exactly reassuring.
Over the last year, I have reviewed nearly a hundred studies on this topic, including the 19 large epidemiological studies. I urge you to do the same and read carefully to see what you think. Here is an example from a Swedish paper showing no increased risk of a brain tumor, known as acoustic neuroma. (see study) As you read the paper, you will find they defined a "regular" cell phone user as someone who uses a cell phone once per week during six months or more. I don't know about you, but everyone I know uses his or her cell phones much more frequently than that. So, just how reliable are some of these studies?
Furthermore, many of the studies published since 2000 followed patients only three years on average. And, even a Danish study that did have longer-term follow-up excluded anyone under the age of 18. So, what about children who will presumably be using these phones for the rest of their lives?
Mobile devices give off non-ionizing radiation radio frequency. This is different from the ionizing radiation of an X-ray, which everyone agrees can be harmful in large doses. The recommendation by the two neurosurgeons on the panel yesterday – Khurana and Dr. Keith Black, chairman of neurosurgery at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles – wear a wired ear piece. Even Bluetooth devices give off some radiation, although at lower doses. Don't carry your cell phone in your pocket; instead put it in a holster that meets industry standards.
What do you think? As Larry reminded us last night, it took a long time to develop a cause-and-effect relationship between cigarettes and lung cancer. Nowadays, everyone knows it exists. Is the same thing happening with cell phones? (more from Dr. Gupta on cell phones and cancer)
Editor's Note: Medical news is a popular but sensitive subject rooted in science. We receive many comments on this blog each day; not all are posted. Our hope is that much will be learned from the sharing of useful information and personal experiences based on the medical and health topics of the blog. We encourage you to focus your comments on those medical and health topics and we appreciate your input. Thank you for your participation.
May 20th, 2008
11:24 AM ET
By Dr. Sanjay Gupta
I am one of those people who is on his cell phone all the time. Between the hospital and my job as a reporter, I get a lot of calls, especially when I am on the road. So, like many people, I pay attention when I read new studies about cell phones and possible health effects. The good news is that most of the studies out there have shown no reason to worry. In fact one study out of Denmark of 52,000 cell phone users who'd used cells for 10 plus years found the incidence of tumors was even less than the general population. The cell phone industry is quick to point out that "the overwhelming majority of studies show wireless phones do not pose a health risk."
So, what to make of the fact that Dr. Vini Khurana out of Australia and Dr. Keith Black out of Los Angeles, who are both neurosurgeons, have voiced concerns about cell phones and brain cancer? And, just today, there is a new study of cell phones and pregnant women. That study found women who used cell phone two to three times a day while pregnant had children that were 54 percent more likely to develop ADHD and other behavioral problems. And, if those children used cell phones before age 7, they were 18 percent more likely to develop ADHD. (Watch Dr. Gupta’s report here)
Now, as we dug into this story, we found even the study authors acknowledge that there is no causal link. That means there is no cause-and-effect relationship. It could be that young children who are on their cell phones a lot are also more prone to developing ADHD. Or, on the other hand it could mean that cell phones cause problems we haven’t even imagined. We don't know. What we do know: Most cell phones emit between 850 and 1900 MHz of non-ionizing radiofrequency (RF) energy. It is different from the ionizing radiation from a medical X-ray. It can also make your speakers hum when you walk by them.
So, what do you think? Black, who is also the chair of neurosurgery at Cedars Sinai Hospital, believes that the science simply hasn't caught up and that we would all be well served by taking precautions. He always uses an earpiece. What about you? Are you concerned about cell phones and health effects or is this not a big deal?
Editor’s Note: Medical news is a popular but sensitive subject rooted in science. We receive many comments on this blog each day; not all are posted. Our hope is that much will be learned from the sharing of useful information and personal experiences based on the medical and health topics of the blog. We encourage you to focus your comments on those medical and health topics and we appreciate your input. Thank you for your participation.
About this blog
Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.