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Red alert! The cellphone warning has been issued

July 23, 2008 |  5:05 pm

Newcellphone Now he's done it. Dr. Ronald B. Herberman, director of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, has said what no one else would -- no cancer experts anyway. Herberman told his faculty and staff today that they should limit their use of cellphones. Why? They might increase the risk of cancer.

Here's the AP story: Pittsburgh cancer center warns of cellphone risks. In it he says, essentially, that he'd rather be safe than sorry.

Other doctors have been more reluctant to warn against the devices, saying there's just not enough solid evidence to warrant full-fledged alarm.

Here's a recent review of the data from Health reporter Shari Roan: Cancer risk from cellphone use is still a matter of study. This was published just a couple of weeks ago when that pesky new California law took effect. 

Ah, well, if you're gonna panic, do it wisely. Here are some tips, which accompanied the earlier story, on how to reduce one's exposure to cellphones' radio-frequency emissions.

* Use cellphones for short conversations or when a conventional phone isn't available.

* Use a hands-free device that will place more distance between the cellphone's antenna and your head. The antenna emits radio-frequency waves. And your brain lies just beyond your ears.

* Limit children's cellphone use -- both to reduce their exposure at a time when their brains are still developing and to reduce their lifetime exposure. (Unlike us, they still have a lot of years left.)

* In the car, use an external antenna mounted outside the vehicle.

* Keep the phone away from your body when it's turned on. Sure, it's adorable, but you don't need to hold it all the time. Nor do you need, if you're the more manly type, to clip it to your belt.

* Check your phone's SAR value at the Federal Communications Commission website. This value, for Specific Absorption Rate, is the amount of radio-frequency absorbed from the phone into the user's tissues.

In the meantime, I guess we'll wait on proof.

-- Tami Dennis

Photo credit: STR / AFP / Getty Images