Can you hear me now…?

Many people don’t have old-fashioned, landline telephones anymore. They only use cell phones. But all this “progress” comes at a price.

By now, everyone is well aware of the dangers of talking (or texting) while driving. But there are many other, little-known risks every time you pick up your mobile phone. In fact, new evidence links heavy cell phone use with a slew of health problems. Including brain cancer.

In a new study from Sweden, people who used cell phones over a 25-year period had triple the risk of glioma brain cancer compared to people who used these phones for less than one year. Furthermore, men and women who used their cell phones for a total of 1,486 hours or more had double the risk of these brain cancers compared to men and women who used them for just 100 hours.

Of course, some will argue plenty of studies show the safety of cell phone use.

And yes, that’s true. But cell phone providers designed many of those earlier studies that showed cell phone safety. Plus, they conducted these studies for too short of a time period to obtain statistically meaningful results. This latest study is especially meaningful because researchers followed the participants for up to 25 years.

Without a doubt, cell phones are not benign devices. Cellular telephone transmissions work by emitting powerful microwaves. These “micro” wavelengths are shorter and more intense than radio waves. So according to Planck’s Constant, they have higher energy levels.

Everyone knows what a microwave oven does to food. We call it “nuking” the food.

Now imagine “cooking” your brain with those microwaves. This is your brain… this is your brain on microwaves. Not a pretty picture.

Of course, other research also links cell phone use to DNA damage, inflammation, and other health problems.

At Tel Aviv University in Israel, researchers measured the oxidative biochemical status in the saliva of men who used their cell phones for at least 8 hours per month (which equals just about 17 minutes per day). Then, they compared the data on the heavy cell phone users to data on men who did not use cell phones. Or who only used them to send text messages.

The heavy cell phone users had higher measures of oxidative stress, which researchers link to cellular and genetic mutations that lead to the development of cancers.

In addition, in another study, researchers at the Israeli Weitzmann Institute of Science found the heaviest cell phone users have a 50 percent increase in the risk of developing tumors of the salivary glands. These glands are located directly below areas of cell phone use on the face. The risk was higher when the caller always used the same ear, did not use a hands-free device, or used the phone in areas where reception was poor.

Research shows younger users run an especially great risk…

In an earlier Swedish study, researchers found that people who started using cell phones regularly before the age of 20 years had five times the risk of developing brain tumors. And in a Russian study, children who used cell phones had poorer memory than children who did not. Lastly, a British study found that cell phone usage increased the risk of memory loss, sleeping disorders, and headaches in children.

In the last decade, we have seen younger and younger people using cell phones habitually. Some even sleep with them in the bed or under the pillow.

As these young people grow older, we may see cancer rates and other serious health problems rise dramatically.

In fact, research shows cell phone damage can even occur before birth…

Yale researchers found that cell phone exposure in the womb caused behavioral problems in lab mice that resemble ADHD/hyperactivity disorder.

On the other side, cell phones may cause reduced fertility in men. When men carry cell phones in their front pants pocket, it exposes sperm to harmful microwave electromagnetic radiation. A study in Environmental International found that men who stored their cell phones in their front pockets have abnormal, impaired spermatic motility (ability to move toward an unfertilized ovum).

So if you’re looking for a good New Year’s resolution, consider cutting back on cell phone use.

Keep a landline open at your home and place of work. You can get landline service easily as part of a package providing internet service and cable TV service almost anywhere.

Also, do not carry your cell phone in your pocket or sleep with it under your pillow. Set it aside–on a desk, nightstand, counter, dashboard of your auto, or someplace where you’re not in direct physical contact with it.

When you really must use a cell phone, use a headset or speaker. The safest headsets have hollow air tubes (like a stethoscope) instead of wires leading to the ear buds. And if you must use an earpiece, clip a ferrite bead to the cord to reduce exposure. (You can find these accessories through retailers.)

Overall, strive to limit your cell phone use. In fact, I strictly limit the time I spend on the telephone altogether. With rare exceptions, I find that time spent talking on the phone is time spent not working.

I write this daily column, monthly newsletters, and 1,000-page medical textbooks without having to pick up the phone. I prefer emailed communication for business. One of the wonders of the internet is that is allows communications to occur that are organized, disciplined, action- and outcome-oriented.

E-mail communications also give you a chance to think before opening your mouth.

And they don’t require the party with whom you are communicating to drop everything to answer the bell, buzz, chime, or tune. The beauty of “asynchronous communication” on the internet is you send only when you are ready to communicate. And they receive only when they are ready to read it. Ask and you shall receive. But only when you are ready.

You may even consider writing and sending an old-fashioned letter by “snail mail.” Actually, writing uses brain-hand-eye coordination. And it’s a mind-body exercise that appears to keep the brain active to avoid dementia. Plus, it gives your correspondent something of you to receive–other than bills, solicitations and overbearing government notices and demands.

Bottom line?

Stay off the phone. You will save time, money, and your health.


  1. “Mobile phone and cordless phone use and the risk for glioma – Analysis of pooled case-control studies in Sweden, 1997–2003 and 2007–2009,” Pathophysiology, published online 10/28/2014
  1. “Is Human Saliva an Indicator of the Adverse Health Effects of Using Mobile Phones?” Antioxidants & Redox Signaling 2013;18 (6): 622-627
  1. “Cellular phone use and risk of benign and malignant parotid gland tumors–a nationwide case-control study,” Am J Epidemiol. 2/15/2008;167(4):457-67
  2. “Psychophysiological Indicators for Child Users of Mobile Communications Devices: 1) Overview of Present State of the Problem and 2) Results of 4-Year Monitoring of Cognitive, Memory and Other Functions in 196 Children Ages 7-12 who used Mobile Communications Devices,” Radiation Biology. Radiation Ecology. 2011. 51(5): 611-623
  1. “Mobile phones, cordless phones and the risk for brain tumours,” Int J Oncol. 2009 Jul;35(1):5-17
  1. “Physics and biology of mobile telephony,” The Lancet 11/25/2000; 356: 1833-1836