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On April 3, 1973, the first mobile phone was created. Since then, cell phone technology has grown significantly, and it’s now estimated that five billion people own one. Given how many people use cell phones, it’s natural to wonder if these devices are safe. When I use my cell phone to make a call, I’m putting it directly against my head, which raises concerns about potential risks. Does cell phone radiation have an effect on the brain?
In this guide, I’ll discuss the possible health effects on the brain from cell phone EMF exposure. I’ll also explain why current scientific data doesn’t paint a full picture, and share tips on how you can keep yourself safe. So let’s dive in!
Cell Phones And EMF Radiation
For a long time I wondered what was happening behind the scenes when I chatted away on my cell phone. When I started becoming aware of electromagnetic fields and how they can affect the body, one of the first things I discovered was that cell phones are a major source of this type of radiation. This prompted me to delve deeper into cell phone radiation effects on the human body.
So, what exactly is cell phone radiation? In simple terms, it’s the energy emitted by your phone as it sends and receives signals from nearby cell towers. This radiation is a form of electromagnetic energy and falls under the category of non-ionizing radiation, meaning it doesn’t have enough power to ionize atoms or molecules (i.e., remove tightly bound electrons).
Cell phones primarily produce two types of non-ionizing electromagnetic field radiation. These types are radiofrequency (RF) and extremely-low frequency (ELF).
When my phone is powered on, it emits ELF radiation. This type of radiation is present in any device that uses electricity, including power lines and solar panels. While my phone doesn’t produce a significant amount of ELF-EMF radiation, it does emit some, especially when I’m charging it or turning it on.
When my phone establishes a connection with WiFi, Bluetooth, or cellular networks, it emits RF-EMF radiation. This type of radiation is different from ELF radiation and varies in intensity depending on the phone’s activity. When the device is turned on or trying to connect, it emits more RF-EMF radiation, and less when it’s in standby mode.
Now that we’ve covered the basics of radiation from cell phones, let’s take a look at how this radiation might impact our brains.
Cell Phone Radiation and Brain Function
When you hold your cell phone close to your head during a call, your brain gets exposed to the RF energy it emits. Scientists have been studying the possible effects of this exposure on our brain function for years, and the results are fascinating. Some studies suggest that cell phone radiation might have a subtle impact on our cognitive abilities, memory, and even mood. It’s important to note, however, that research in this area is still ongoing, and there’s no definitive answer yet.
Ever thought about why our brains might be affected by cell phone radiation? Well, the human brain is a complex and sensitive organ, filled with billions of neurons communicating through electrical signals. These signals can be influenced by external electromagnetic fields, including those produced by cell phones. While the effects are typically minor, it’s intriguing to think about how these tiny changes could add up over time.
Specific Effects of Cell Phone Radiation on the Brain
Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty and explore some specific ways that cell phone radiation may affect our brains.
- Cognitive function and memory
Did you know that cell phone radiation might impact our thinking abilities and memory? Crazy, right?
Over the years, researchers have conducted several studies to understand how cell phone radiation might influence our cognitive functions. Some studies have found a correlation between cell phone use and reduced attention span, slower reaction times, and even decreased problem-solving abilities. However, the results are not always consistent, and more research is needed to draw definitive conclusions.
Memory is another area of concern. Some studies suggest that long-term exposure to cell phone radiation could impact our ability to recall information. However, just like with cognitive function, the evidence isn’t quite strong enough to confirm these findings just yet.
- Sleep patterns and disturbances
Ever noticed how a late-night phone call can leave you tossing and turning? It turns out, your cell phone might be impacting your sleep in more ways than one.
Melatonin is our body’s natural sleep hormone, and it plays a crucial role in regulating our sleep cycles. Research has shown that exposure to cell phone radiation might suppress melatonin production, making it harder for us to fall asleep and stay asleep.
Speaking of sleep, cell phone radiation may also affect the quality of our shut-eye. Some studies have discovered that exposure to RF energy could disrupt our REM (rapid eye movement) sleep – the stage when we dream and consolidate memories. Yikes!
- Mood and mental health
You might be wondering, can the radiation from cell phones actually affect our emotions? The answer is a speculative “maybe.” Some studies have suggested that cell phone radiation exposure can be connected to an increase in depressive, anxious, and stress symptoms. Although the precise causes of this connection are still unknown, the field of inquiry definitely needs more investigation.
Our emotions and mood are closely tied to neurotransmitters – the brain chemicals that help regulate our mental state. Interestingly, cell phone radiation might have an impact on the levels and activity of these neurotransmitters, potentially leading to mood fluctuations. However, the research in this area is still in its early stages, so take this information with a grain of salt
Potential Health Risks of Cell Phone Radiation
We’ve explored the ways cell phone radiation might affect our brain function, but what about more serious health risks? Let’s take a look.
- Brain cancer and tumors
One of the most debated topics surrounding cell phone radiation is its potential link to brain cancer and tumors. Are our phones really putting us at risk?
As part of my research, I found that both ELF and RF-EMF radiation are classified as “possibly carcinogenic to humans” by the World Health Organization’s International Association for Research on Cancer. This designation is based on a study linking exposure in rats to heart and brain tumors.
In the study, rats were exposed to RF radiation over their entire body for nine hours per day. There was a slight increase in the development of glioma, a rare and deadly form of brain cancer. The study itself took ten years to complete and used 2G and 3G technology, versus the 4G and 5G in widespread use today.
Glioma and brain tumors are the most well-known potential side effects of cell phone radiation exposure, but another study found that cell phone use can also suppress glucose production in the brain.
Researchers observed altered glucose levels in the right and left sides of the brain after a cell phone user made a phone call and held the device to their head. The potential repercussions of this altered glucose production are unknown, but it’s still a noteworthy effect.
- Blood-brain barrier permeability
Another intriguing aspect of cell phone radiation is its potential effect on the blood-brain barrier. But first, let’s clarify what the blood-brain barrier is and why it’s so important. The blood-brain barrier is a protective barrier that separates the bloodstream from the brain, preventing harmful substances from entering our brain tissue. If cell phone radiation were to affect the blood-brain barrier’s permeability, it could potentially allow harmful substances to pass through, putting our brain health at risk.
Studies on cell phone radiation and the blood-brain barrier have produced mixed results. Some research has shown a temporary increase in permeability following exposure to RF energy, while other studies have found no significant changes. As with many topics in this field, more research is necessary to reach a consensus.
The Data Doesn’t Tell The Full Story
Here’s why. A longitudinal study, which is a study that is performed over an extended period of time, takes years to complete. Cell phones, in general, have only been in widespread use for the past 20 or so years, with our usage increasing drastically in the past ten.
We can’t say that cell phones will or won’t cause problems for heavy users in 20 or 30 more years, because we simply don’t know. Unfortunately, there’s no way to cheat the passage of time in a lab. Plus, the existing studies consider the way we used phones 10 or 20 years ago, which may not be relevant to current usage.
It will be years before a conclusive answer can come out regarding the connection between cell phones and brain cancer or any other health defect.
If you’re interested in learning more about the effects of cell phone radiation from a respected neurosurgeon, you can check out this video:
How to Avoid Radiation From Cell Phones and On The Brain
Now that we’ve delved into the potential effects of cell phones on our brains, let’s go over some practical ways to reduce our exposure and stay safe.
- Use a wired headset. I recommend using a wired headset to lower your EMF exposure while using your cell phone. Wired headsets are better than wireless ones because they don’t require Bluetooth. You can choose from many options, including DefenderShield’s EMF-Free Earbud Headphones that offer 100% EMF protection.
To find more wired headsets, you can refer to my guide to the Best Air Tube Headsets.
- Invest in a protective case. Another way to lower your exposure is to invest in a protective case. An EMF protection case can dampen a significant portion of the radiation emitted by your device while still allowing a signal to pass through. Although it’s still necessary to wear a wired headset when talking on the phone, a good case can further reduce your exposure. DefenderShield’s EMF radiation case is FCC certified and lab-tested, providing users with nearly 100% EMF protection.
You can also check out my guide to Cell Phone Radiation Protection to find more cases.
- Text instead of call. Another handy tip is to opt for texting over calling whenever possible. Texting generally exposes you to lower levels of radiation since your phone is further away from your body. So, next time you need to make a quick check-in, consider sending a text instead.
- Consider supplements to counteract the effects on your body. Supplements can also help counteract some of the risks associated with cell phone usage. Although it’s impossible to eliminate all the risks, certain supplements can boost your immune system, fight inflammatory responses, and even help prevent cancer. Ginkgo Biloba, in particular, was shown to protect the brain tissue of rats from damage due to RF-EMF exposure.
To learn more about supplements, refer to my guide to Anti-Radiation Herbs and Supplements.
- Keep your phone in airplane mode whenever possible. Whenever possible, keep your phone in airplane mode. Connecting to WiFi, Bluetooth, or the cellular network produces a significant amount of RF-EMF radiation. Your device emits significantly less radiation when it doesn’t have to maintain an active connection. You can achieve this by putting the phone in airplane mode. If you’re not using data or streaming, consider switching your phone to airplane mode.
- Don’t sleep with your phone under your pillow or on your nightstand — put it on the other side of the room. Lastly, it’s best not to sleep with your phone under your pillow or on your nightstand. Many people use their phones as alarm clocks and find it convenient to have them nearby. However, if your phone is within six to ten feet of your bed, you’re exposed to higher amounts of EMF radiation all over your body. If you can’t keep your phone off or in airplane mode while you sleep, it’s better to store it across the room.
How Much Radiation Does Your Phone Produce?
The amount of radiation produced by a cell phone varies by make and model. Manufacturers list something called the Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) levels, which tell you how much radiation the user absorbs per gram of tissue.
In the United States, SAR levels are regulated by the FCC, with the legal limit set at 1.6 W/kg for cell phones. Your phone’s SAR levels are listed in the owner’s manual, and usually on the manufacturer’s website, as well.
The problem with SAR levels is that they don’t take into consideration our cumulative exposure, and they make certain assumptions about our cell phone usage. The tests are performed in conditions designed to simulate regular use, but the way we use phones is much different than it was even a decade ago.
Therefore, you may want to test your phone’s EMF output yourself. You can do this with an EMF meter — I recommend the TriField TF2 but any meter that can detect electric field, magnetic field, and radiofrequency radiation will do.
Testing your phone involves taking several measurements, both with the phone off and on. To see how much radiation your brain is exposed to while talking on the phone, place the meter directly on the device while it is powered on and try making a phone call. Watch how the levels change. Then, take the same measurement, but this time from six to ten inches away from the phone. This simulates your exposure when using the phone both with and without a wired headset.
If you’re like me, your cell phone is an absolute necessity and an unavoidable part of daily life. However, they also come with certain risks. Current data suggests there may be a link between cell phones and brain tumors like gliomas. Therefore, it’s best to take steps to protect yourself when using the device. Wired headsets, protective cases, and lifestyle changes can go a long way towards lowering your risk of negative health effects.
I’m a big fan of the products mentioned above because I’ve found that they’re the best I’ve tried on the market. However, I encourage you to try any models that look promising for you. Any little step to reducing EMF exposure can make a huge difference for your health and well-being.