Are mobile phones destroying our brains?

By Megan Cawley

Scare stories of cancer are not enough to alarm students about their mobile phone usage, a snap survey in Leicester suggests.

Whether it’s blissful ignorance or a matter of the unknown, students are not considering the potential dangers they face when glued to their mobile phones.

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Cancer Research UK released a report on Monday stating that it is ‘unlikely’ that using mobile phones has a direct link with causing certain types of cancer.

However, cell phones do let off radiofrequency radiation, also known as ‘radio waves’. Releasing this radiation from their antennas, cell phones can transfer this energy onto the human body.

But can this increase the risk of cancer directly?

Statistics from the report suggest that since the 1990s, the number of brain tumours reported had increased by 34% in the UK. The number of people owning a mobile phone had increased by around 500%, which is a much higher figure. With the improvements in medical technology over the last two decades as well, the increase in the amount of diagnoses are likely due to a better recognition and understanding of brain tumours.

But do people still need to be aware of their mobile phone usage?

With our mobiles acting as an extended arm, there has been much debate around whether these devices are in fact dangerous for us to use.

 

Apple have introduced a new feature with the iOS 12 update, called ‘Screen Time’, which allows its users to see the amount of time they are spending on their mobiles. It also allows people to set limits if they choose – to prevent themselves, or their children from hours of mindless scrolling through social media and playing games.

Leicester university student, Terasita Cullen, 21, said: “According to the new Screen Time thing, I use my phone for two and a half hours a day.

“I’m not really concerned because I don’t just use it for social media. I use it for emails and looking at the news.

“I’ve never thought about the cancer debate. I didn’t know it was a thing.”

In 2011, research was undertaken by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) to categorise mobile devices as a ‘possible cause of cancer’. Despite much investigation, they concluded that there was not enough evidence to claim that mobile phones have a clear relation to causing some types of cancer.

The Cancer Research UK report suggested that the electromagnetic radiation transmitted from cell phones are too weak to damage human DNA and so cannot directly cause cancer. The radio waves are below international guidelines.

DMU student Toni Hendry, 22, said: “I am a bit concerned with how much I use my phone because I find myself sitting on it scrolling past the same things I’ve already looked at, knowing I’ve got stuff to do.

“On a normal day I sit and scroll for probably four hours. I don’t really know, it’s probably worse.

“I can sleep better with my phone across the room. If you sleep next to it, it can disturb your sleep. But I’ve only really thought about the risks of cancer now that you’ve mentioned it.”

The screen time vs cancer debate is an ongoing study for Cancer Research UK. They are continuing their research with over 100,000 healthy people to see if their daily mobile use, can be affecting their risk of cancer.

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