Even if science cannot find a link between non-ionizing radiation and brain cancer, we should not simply throw caution to the wind.
Most of us are aware of the potential cancer concerns of high energy ionizing radiation, such as solar/cosmic sources, X-rays, and radon. However, there has been a lot of debate about the effects of non-ionizing radiation (microwave and cell/radio signals). According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), there are three main reasons that people are concerned about cancer-causing potential of our cell phones: they emit radio-frequency energy, there has been a drastic increase in cell phone usage with 327.5 million cellphone subscribers in the US in 2014 and we tend to use the devices for longer periods of time. Despite the improved technology and lower energy output of our modern devices, there is still a debate regarding cell phone radiation.
If you have not reviewed the NCI site, I would recommend it. I did not realize how much research is being done in the field of cell phone radiation. Before you can understand the risk, at least a brief physics and biology review is needed. Electromagnetic radiation travels in waves and also has particle characteristics. This form of radiation is typically defined by wavelengths and frequencies, as defined by the number of cycles per second (hertz, Hz). When the body is exposed to the radiation, the energy is absorbed. Ionizing radiation is known to cause direct DNA damage, whereas the non-ionizing radiation really only causes tissue heating. This is the process that allows us to cook food in our microwaves.
There have been three large epidemiological studies (NCI and cancer.org)looking at cell phone use and the potential for cancers: Interphone (no significant increases in brain or central nervous system cancers), Danish Study (no increased risks of brain cancers) and the Million Women Study (No increased risk for brain or nervous system cancers). Additional smaller studies funded by NCI showed no increased risks of glioma, meningioma or acoustic neuromas (brain cancer types). Unfortunately, many of these studies suffer from changing technology (analog to digital, lower power output with modern devices), reporting errors and other bias. Despite the data, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) still declared the following statement in 2011 “possibly carcinogenic to humans.” The American Cancer Society (ACS) stance is that more evaluation is needed. This is a similar stance to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) and the US FDA. The CDC finds no scientific evidence for a link between wireless devices and cancer or other illnesses. A recent large study by US National Toxicology Program (NTP) exposed entire rats to RF energy for 9 hours per day, starting before birth and continuously for 2 years. There was a very mild increase in tumors in male rats, but not female. This data does put the “what if” question back onto the table. The studies do expose the rats to much higher doses of RF radiation than most people experience in a day, but the possibility remains.
It seems that there is a lot of debate regarding the harms of cell phone radiation, despite what the science is showing. This review is not designed to be a meta-analysis, rather the data support that each of us needs to make our own decisions regarding the use of our cellular devices. To reduce your potential exposure, you can limit cell phone use, use the speaker mode to move the antenna further from your head, or use hands-free devices to move the energy further from your body, use a phone with a lower specific absorption rate (SAR) or you can possibly use a device like the WaveBlocker. The WaveBlocker from Protek Innovations is a 2 1/4″ long by 1/2″ wide by 1/8″ thick plastic device, which promises to absorb ambient radiation. After the World Health Organization (WHO) classified cell phones as possibly carcinogenic in 2011, the team from Waveblocker began working on an idea. Through 4 years of multi-specialty collaboration, the passive circuit device was patented. Placing the device over the antennae has been shown to reduce radiation exposure by as much as 65%.
Installation of the device is incredibly easy. Remove the device from the WaveBlocker packaging, clean the back of your device, place a call and move the WaveBlocker around until the light is the brightest. The device will absorb ambient radiation and will illuminate a red LED. When you have positioned the device in the best place, remove the adhesive strip on the device and place it onto your phone with the W facing upwards. Now every time you see the light illuminate, you are decreasing the potential harms of the radiofrequency energy. Without a way to test this theorem, I will have to rely on Protek Innovations word.
The product is lightweight (0.1oz), will not work through a case and seemed to work best around the bottom right of the iPhone 7. This made it difficult to find the best location/brightest illumination of the LED. The device is a really neat idea for those who are worried about the potential hazards of cell phone radiation. I tend to use more handsfree devices and thus am less worried. I was still able to search on WiFi and to talk on the phone without any changes in signal strength. My wife asked a really interesting/important question, one that I cannot answer. If the device is absorbing the radio frequency, how is it still able to communicate with cell towers? Is this residual energy wasted or is it simply not useful energy? Just like with the lack of scientific evidence for or against the risks of cell phones, I am not entirely sure of what this device does. I can understand what it is meant to do, that it illuminates (without a battery) in response to energy and reduces the amount of energy exposure to your head. Alas, if I am talking on the phone, how does this reduce my exposures/risks in real time? Lastly, if the signal can be reduced by 65%, why do I keep losing signal when I am functioning at 100%?
For those who want to take all precautions, this device may be perfect for you. I will continue to roll the dice and use my phone inside of a Catalyst case and more often than not with a hands-free headset.