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Study suggests cellphone radiation weakens bone

October 28, 2009 |  6:00 am

Men who wear their cellphones on a belt for many years may have decreased bone density in the pelvic area, according to a new study.

Holster The operative word here is "may." Dozens of cellphone safety studies have suggested that long-term use may expose people to high enough levels of radio frequency energy to cause such health problems as cancerous and benign brain tumors and behavior problems in children. The new study on bone weakening is hardly convincing. Researchers in Turkey examined the bone density in the upper rims of the pelvis of 150 men who carried their cellphones on a belt. The men carried their phones for an average of 15 hours a day for an average of six years.

Bone density was compared on the side where the men wore their phones and on the opposite side. The study showed a slight reduction in bone density on the side where the men carried the phones. The difference was not statistically significant, however -- meaning it could be due to chance. But the researchers pointed out that the men were fairly young and that further bone weakening might occur over time. The study was published in the Journal of Craniofacial Surgery.

Studies that link cellphone use to health problems have not been conclusive. However, at some point, one has to wonder if it's prudent to make some modest changes to reduce the potential risk. For example, some experts suggest using a headset in order to keep the phone away from the head and not wearing a cellphone on a belt or in a pocket that is in contact with the body. Pregnant women, for example, are urged to keep their phones away from their abdomens. Perhaps young children, whose brains are still developing, should not use a cellphone on a regular basis.

More safety studies on cellphones are forthcoming, and manufacturers are working on lowering the levels of radiation emitted by phones. But, until then, taking precautions to keep phones a bit of a distance from the body may be sensible for heavy cellphone users. 

-- Shari Roan

Photo: A cellphone holder is shaped like a holster for a gun. Credit: Tony Maben  /  AP

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