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Nigerians ignore hazard of cell phone use
Nigeria Created: 19 Apr 2008
In less than 10 years, the mobile or cell phone has gone from being a rare, expensive, status symbol of the Nigerian business elite to a pervasive, low-cost personal item of the average man on the street. When it comes to issues of service and application ubiquity, low cost data delivery, and a high degree of personalization and synchronization between various user appliances, there are few appliances that can match the versatility of the mobile phone.

But since introduction, concerns have been raised about the potential health impacts from regular use of the mobile phone. Health authorities have run continuous long-term studies of effects of mobile phone radiation effects to humans, and in particular children and have been hard pressed to establish significant relationship between mobile phone use and health. There is currently limited evidence, but cell phones have been claimed to cause cancer, especially cancer of the brain. Only recently, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) found a borderline statistically significant link between tumour frequency on the same side of the head as the mobile phone was used on and mobile phone usage.

There have also been established links between cellphones and sperm quality by the International Union against Cancer (IUCC). A 2007 study published in “Progress In Electromagnetics Research Symposium (PIERS) Online” reported higher incidence of headache and also disturbance of normal sleep patterns following mobile phone use.

Earlier this year, an independent but state-funded French health watchdog, advised that parents should not give small children mobile phones. Numerous other studies show that mobile phones carried in pockets of pants and/or worn on belts could result in loss of quantity and quality of active sperm cells by men.

Saturday Vanguard’s crew of Sola Ogundipe & Chioma Obinna went out in attempt to assess how much mobile phone users in the country are compromising their health as a result of their cellular telephone habits (including frequency of use and duration of calls). Considering that cell phones have only been widely available nationwide for a relatively short period of time (since the 1990s), and that cellular technology continues to change, they conclude that overall, research has not consistently demonstrated a link between cellular telephone use and cancer or any other adverse health effect.

There have been established link between cellphones and sperm quality which shows that heavy mobile phone users (over four hours per day) have significantly less viable sperm. This is corroborated by a prospective study of normal men who found that significantly increasing their mobile phone use (over six hours each day for five days) caused a marked short-term reduction of sperm quality.

The bottom line is that men, who use mobile phones on a regular basis are believed to lose about 30 per cent of their active sperm cells. Persons who carry their mobile phones in pockets of their pants are putting their potency at great danger. Scientists say that even in sleep mode, the mobile phone is as harmful as when switched on.

There is currently limited evidence, but cell phones have been claimed to cause cancer, especially cancer of the brain. Saturday Vanguard is privy to a Danish study in which the possible association between use of cellular telephones and development of a type of brain cancer called Acoustic neuroma.

The study carried out between 2000 and 2002, produced data with information on use of cellular telephones from personal interviews, data from medical records, and the results of radiologic examinations. From the study, it was discovered that while overall estimated relative risk from cell phone use for 10 years or more did not increase acoustic neuroma risk over that of short-term users, there is cause for caution. Furthermore, it was shown that tumours did not occur more frequently on the side of the head on which the telephone was typically used, and that the size of the tumour did not correlate with the pattern of cell phone use.

The results of the prospective, population-based, nationwide study, which included a large number of long-term users of cellular telephones, do not completely exonerate cell phone use and risk of development of acoustic neuroma. There are concerns because hand-held cell phones are used close to the head, that the radiofrequency energy produced by the devices may affect the brain and nervous system tissue in the head. Research have focused on whether radiofrequency energy can cause malignant cancer.

Widespread use of cellular telephones has heightened concerns about possible adverse health effects. Previously, cellular telephone use was not associated with increased risk for brain tumours, acoustic neuromas, salivary gland tumours, eye tumours, or leukaemias and there was no trend with time since first subscription. Worldwide use of cellular telephones has raised concerns about possible adverse health effects.

The reasons for these fears are obvious. A telecommunications expert told Saturday Vanguard that during operation, the antenna of a cellular telephone emits powerful radio frequency electromagnetic fields that can penetrate 4-6 cm into the human brain when the device is held close to the ear. He noted that in view of the localized nature of exposure during cellular telephone use, research has usually focused on tumours of the head and neck, particularly brain tumours, salivary gland tumors and other melanomas.

Essentially, to date, overall epidemiologic evidence has not suggested increased risk for any tumour among cellular telephone users with less than approximately 10 years of use. Most studies have not found a statistically significant overall association with the risk of brain tumours for use of 10 or more years except for about a handful for which methodologic issues have been raised. In Nigeria where cell phones were introduced relatively recently, there are comparatively few persons who have used cell phones for 10 or more years.

Handheld mobile phones were officially introduced into Nigeria around 2000 unlike in Europe where many the devices have held sway since the mid 1980s. This makes the average Nigerian population unsuitable for a study aimed at testing the hypothesis that long-term mobile phone use increases the risk of brain tumors. Comparatively, population-based case-control studies in Denmark, Sweden and Finland show those cases of malignant parotid gland tumours are regularly diagnosed amongst regular mobile phone use, regardless of duration. Similar results were found for more than 10 years’ duration of mobile phone use.

The risk estimate did not increase, regardless of type of phone and amount of use, making researchers to conclude that the increased standardized incidence ratio for cervical cancer among cellular telephone users is often difficult to interpret. There are three main reasons why people are concerned that cellular telephones (“wireless” or “mobile” telephones) may cause certain types of cancer. One is that they emit radiofrequency (RF) energy, a form of radiation cancer, which is under investigation for its effects on the human body. In Nigeria, cellular telephone technology is relatively new and there are no long-term studies of the effects of RF energy from cellular telephones on the human body.

The number of cellular telephone users is increasing rapidly. According to the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), there are now at least eight million active subscribers to cellular telephone services in the country. This is an increase from a few hundred thousand users just seven years ago. There are estimations that by 2010, there will be about 60 million subscribers in Nigeria and at least 3.5 billion cell phone users worldwide. For these and other less obvious reasons, it is important to learn whether radiofrequency energy affects human health, and to provide reassurance if it does not. Radiofrequency energy, also called radio waves, is a form of electromagnetic radiation that can be ionizing (high-frequency) or non-ionizing (low-frequency).

Experts told Saturday Vanguard that radiofrequency energy is a non-ionizing (low-frequency) type of electromagnetic radiation. It is known that ionizing radiation, such as that produced by x-ray machines, can present a health risk at high levels of exposure. However, it is not yet known whether non-ionizing radiation poses a cancer risk. The most important use of radiofrequency energy is for telecommunications. In Nigeria, cell phones operate in a frequency ranging from about 1,800 to 2,200 megahertz (MHz) - a range in which radiation produced is in the form of non-ionizing radiofrequency energy as compared to electrical appliances like AM/FM radio and VHF/UHF television sets. Essentially, radiofrequency energy produces heat, which can increase body temperature and damage those parts exposed to it. It is generally agreed that the amount of radiofrequency energy encountered by the general public is too low to produce significant tissue heating or an increase in body temperature. However, it is also agreed that further research is needed to determine what effects, if any, low-level non-ionizing RF energy has on the body and whether it is dangerous to people.

But it is argued that intensity of radiofrequency energy emitted by cellular telephones depends on the level of the signal sent to or from the nearest base station. A geographic area serviced by a base unit is often referred to as a “cell ” which is why these devices are called “cellular” telephones or “cell” phones. When a call is placed from a cellular telephone, a signal is sent from the antenna of the phone to the nearest base station antenna.

The base station routes the call through a switching center, where the call can be transferred to another cellular telephone, another base station, or to the local land-line telephone system. The farther a cellular telephone is from the base station antenna, the higher the power level needed to maintain the connection. This distance, in part, determines the amount of radiofrequency energy exposure to the user.

Findings show that a cell phone user’s level of exposure to radiofrequency energy depends on several factors. These include the number and duration of calls, the amount of cellular telephone traffic at a given time, the distance from the nearest cellular base station (a low-powered radio transmitter that communicates with a user’s cell phone), the quality of the transmission, how far the antenna is extended, and the size of the handset. Essentially, a cell phone’s main source of radiofrequency energy is its antenna. The antenna of the hand-held cellular telephones is in the handset, which is typically held against the side of the head while the telephone is in use.

The closer the antenna is to the head, the greater a people expected exposure to radiofrequency energy. The amount of radiofrequency energy absorbed decreases rapidly with increasing distance between the antenna and the user. Experts say hands-free kits are a relatively recent feature that can be used with cell phones for convenience and comfort. These systems reduce the amount of radiofrequency energy exposure to the head because the phone, which is the source of radiofrequency energy, is not placed against the head. However, most studies conducted on cell phone use and cancer risk have focused on hand-held models not equipped with hands-free systems, since they deliver the most radiofrequency energy to the user.

Saturday Vanguard gathered that many studies have already been done, and research is ongoing. Many of these studies found that the use of hand-held cellular telephones is unrelated to the risk of brain cancer, but stress that additional studies covering longer periods of cellular telephone are desirable. Other results showed no evidence of increasing risk with increasing years of use, or average minutes of use per day and that brain tumours did not occur more often than expected on the side of the head on which participants reported using their phone. There have been series of allegations about the potential health hazards of cell phones and other types of hand-held transceivers in causing cancer. In addition, there have also been numerous objections to siting of TV, radio and cell phone transmission facilities because of a fear of cancer induction.

Saturday Vanguard is privy to research studies suggesting that exposure to radiofrequency radiation increases cancer (lymphoma) incidence in laboratory animals. It is evidences like this that contribute to the controversy. On the whole, event though concensus is that epidermiological evidence for an association between radiofrequency radiation and cancer has been found to be weak and inconsistent, it remains an important fact that cell phone radiation should not be taken for granted.

How cell phones are used in Nigeria
Today almost every Nigerian accosted on the street is part of a wireless, mobile population that participates in digital activities either at home or work. Persons of all ages are attuned to this kind of access. For the average urban-based Nigerian, the cell phone has become an integral and essential one-stop communications device. In this environment, people consider their cell phones part of their identity. Nigerians are quick to testify the advantages of the cell phone. They readily point out how owning a cell phone, apart from enabling voice/video calls and “texting”, puts at their fingertips almost unlimited access to radio, photography, internet, video, TV and other ancilliary services in the fold of the third generation (3G) deployment.

The cell phone holds promise as the must-have low cost, high speed data device driving forward the fourth generation (4G) initiative as short-range communication emerges and takes foothold as networks evolve from a centralized architecture to a distributed one. It is clear the cell phone is a useful device with non-voice data applications most owners are yet to get used to. The cell phone is helping their owners gain help in emergencies. There are more than a few mobile phone users who have used their hand-held device in an emergency and gained valuable help for themselves or others. Nigerians are quick to testify the advantages of the cell phone.

They readily point out how owning a cell phone, apart from enabling voice/video calls and “texting”, puts at their fingertips almost unlimited access to radio, photography, internet, video, TV and other ancilliary services in the fold of the third generation (3G) deployment. They note that in the nearest future, a cell phone holds promise as the must-have low cost, high speed data device driving forward the fourth generation (4G) initiative as short-range communication emerging and taking foothold as networks evolve from a centralized architecture to a distributed one. It is clear the cell phone is a useful device with non-voice data applications most owners are yet to get used to. The cell phone is helping their owners gain help in emergencies. There are more than a few mobile phone users who have used their hand-held device in an emergency and gained valuable help for themselves or others.

Do Nigerians worship their cell phones?

It would not be wrong to admit this as fact. Nigerians love cell phones. They love acquiring them and love showing them off. Whether it is the cheap low-end type or the very expensive high-end smart phone, the cell phone is an essential part of daily life— more or less a life-saver. Many persons acknowledge that being without a cell phone is almost unthinkable. Here, no one parts easily with their cell phone; no self-respecting Nigerian leaves home without his or her cell phone.

There are those who never go to bed or eat or read or watch TV or do virtually anything without their cell phones by their side. There are persons who have a habit of visiting the lavatory with their phones in their pockets. A few swear they cannot take a bath without their phones within easy reach even while they are in the shower. A striking impact of mobile technology is that Nigerians are using their cell phones to shift the way they spend their time. Some owners say they fill in their free time when they are traveling or waiting for someone by making phone calls, sending SMS or playing games. There are those who wait to make most of their cell calls for the hours when they do not count against their “anytime” minutes in their basic calling plan.

But there are challenges associated with cell phone use. A sizable proportion of cell phone owners do not drive as safely as they should while using their mobile devices. Men are more likely than women to admit this. There are those who are regularly irritated at least occasionally by the loud and annoying cell users who conduct their calls in public places. Indeed, one in 10 cell phone owners admit they have drawn criticism or irritated stares from others when they are using their cell phones in public. For some, the cell phone has become so central to their communications needs that they lose track of the expenses associated with their phones.

About a third of cell owners claim they are not bothered by the size of their phone bills. A few spoke their mind: “You know this is my private business. I don’t want to talk about it. On the average, more than 50 people make calls here. Sometimes if your lucky, they may be more than that but on a bad days like that the number may drop to 30. For the period they talk, it depends on individuals. Some may not want to talk much but the least most times is three minutes but I have one particular guy that cannot talk less than 30 to 40 minutes.”--Uchenna Azudiabia - Phone booth operator

“Aunty, I cannot do without phoning my friends and family members. But the rumour that mobile phones can cause cancer is not yet clear. There is no convincing scientific evidence that the use of mobile phones can cause brain tumours or other cancers in humans. You see, people like me cannot do without making night calls. Most times I spend very long time on phones. Some times I call from 12: 30 midnight to 4 a.m. This is mostly because it is free and one can discuss whatever problems with ones friend or family members freely without checking the time one have spent.

Again, for the fact that people say it affects this or that does not mean you should believe them or stop using GSM. What I can say is that as far as Obasanjo’s government found it necessary to at least introduced GSM in Nigeria, I am happy because I can now talk to my parents any time I choose unlike those days you will first of go to NITEL office or buy phone cards that will never get through. My dear, for me it is all phoning. But if it has any health impact, the authorities should have known before bringing it into the country. Any way let us still wait since it is not yet happening in Nigeria.”
--Ebuka Agbachi, businessman

“Since the advent of GSM, era of no tone has become a thing of the past. We no longer queue at NITEL offices, waiting to make both local and internationals calls. But the Federal Government decided to ease the problem by bringing GSM closer to even the poor. So the stories that this and that is affecting human health should not just arise. You see most of our young youths will not even take it lightly with your rumours. Pls don’t let me burst into tears. GSM has come and it has come to stay.”
--Bola Adeoye, student

“In fact, the issue of GSM is very useful, at least, it helps to get in touch with people one has seen for along time even if you don’t see them regularly. Also, it is now easier to get contact in terms of business. However, it becomes a liability on some people to buy recharge cards regularly as if you don’t recharge, you will not be able to make calls. Also, it has opened one’s life to robbers because immediately they attack you, the first thing they ask for is your hand set, not minding whether you use the expensive one or not. In most cases, you see a lot of people going into 419 or dupe others in order to buy expensive hand sets. So, in as much as it is useful in terms of making calls, it has exposed a lot of people to robbery attack.”
-- Dominon Ukpai, entrepreneur

What you should know about mobile phone (GSM)
Maintaining the highest standards of health and safety for GSM technology is a global issue that the GSM operators must consider addressing as a priority in partnership with government, consumer and industry stakeholders. Critical observers believes that the provision of clear and independent answers based on sound scientific research will ensure that mobile communications continue to work for the social and economic benefit of all.

What are the health risks?
Independent scientific institutions around the world review relevant research as it is published. The consensus of these expert groups is that there is no demonstrable evidence of a risk to human health from mobile phone use.
I live close to a base station. Am I at risk?

Where members of the public have access to the area around a base station the radio signal levels are typically much lower than even the most stringent internationally adopted safety guidelines. It is only in areas close to the antennas that the recommended limits may be exceeded. The network operator will take steps to prevent public access to these areas by placing the antennas near the top of the mast or high on a building. GSM base stations operate with low radio signal powers to reduce interference to nearby sites that could affect call quality. For the typical GSM base station that is mounted on a building or a pole the typical maximum signal strength in publicly accessible areas will be less than 1 per cent of most national RF exposure standards. In many cases, the GSM signal strength will be comparable to existing broadcast radio and TV services.

Can someone with hearing aid use a mobile phone?
Most new models of hearing aids are immune to radio frequency interference from GSM phones that are more than two metres away. Some are also immune to interference when the phone is brought up to the same ear as the hearing aid. The result depends on the level of immunity designed into the hearing aid, the nature of the hearing loss and the type of mobile phone.

Why is mobile phones usage restricted in hospitals?
At short range, the radio signal from a mobile phone may cause interference with electronic medical devices. At distances greater than 2m the possibility is substantially reduced. It is possible for mobile phones to be used in designated areas of hospitals. However, you should obey any warning signs and the instructions of hospital staff. If you use electrical medical equipment in your home, we recommend that you seek the advice of your doctor or equipment supplier.

Will a pacemaker be affected by the signal from a mobile phone?
Brands and models of cardiac pacemakers exhibit a wide range of immunity levels to GSM and other types of radio signals. Therefore, people who wear cardiac pacemakers and who want to use a GSM phone should seek the advice of their cardiologist. If, as a pacemaker user, you are still concerned about interaction with mobile phones, it has been suggested by national health authorities that you maintain a 15 cm (6 inch) separation between the phone and your pacemaker; do not hold your phone to your chest. E.g. don’t carry the phone in a breast pocket; refer to your pacemaker product literature for information on your particular device; and refer to your phone product literature for the technical parameters of your phone.

Why can’t I use my mobile phone when flying?
It is standard practice on aircraft to turn off all types of radio transmitters and certain other electrical devices unless they have been demonstrated not to cause interference to aircraft systems. One current concern is that when airborne the radio signals from mobile phones could travel for hundreds of kilometers, which could interfere with the operation of ground based mobile networks. Obey airline instructions regarding the use of electronic devices.

What about mobile phone use while driving?
Driving safely is of paramount importance to everyone on today’s busy roads, and mobile phones should be used responsibly while on the move.

Is it true that mobile phones can cause explosions at petrol stations?
There is no established link between radio signals from mobile phones or base stations and petrol station fires. There may be more tangible hazards associated with the distraction of using a mobile phone while operating a petrol pump.

How true is it that a mobile phone can attract lightning?
There is no scientific evidence to indicate that mobile phone use is not safe during lightning. Somebody who is outside increases their risk of being struck if they are on high ground, in an open space, near water or near large metallic structures or trees. If you are outside, find shelter in a substantial building or in a fully enclosed metal vehicle with the windows completely shut. If this is not possible, you should follow the instructions of responsible safety organizations.

Is it safe for a child to use a mobile phone?
The current World Health Organization view is that international safety guidelines protect everyone in the population with a large safety factor. Mobile phones do provide important safety benefits to children who can use them in times of distress or emergency situations. However, mobile phones are not toys, and parental supervision in the selection and use of mobile communication technologies for children is essential.

How true is it that mobile phones can effect male fertility and sperm quality?
Some preliminary scientific studies have reported a link. However, these studies have generally not properly accounted for lifestyle factors. For example, diet, smoking, etc. The consensus view of expert public health bodies, including the WHO, is that there are no adverse health effects associated with the radio signals used by mobile phones or base stations.

Can long term use of a mobile phone affect hearing?
There have been some preliminary research reports suggesting a link between the use of mobile phones and personal stereos and effects on hearing. However, these preliminary findings have not yet been confirmed. The risk of hearing loss increases as sound is played louder and for longer durations. Mobile phone users can limit the risk of hearing damage by keeping the handset volume down, avoiding prolonged, continuous listening and making calls away from background noise.
Current WHO advice: Present scientific information does not indicate the need for any special precautions for use of mobile phones.

If individuals are concerned, they might choose to limit their own or their children’s RF exposure by limiting the length of calls, or using “hands-free” devices to keep mobile phones away from the head and body.There have been established link between cellphones and sperm quality which shows that heavy mobile phone users (over four hours per day) have significantly less viable sperm. This is corroborated by a prospective study of normal men who found that significantly increasing their mobile phone use (over six hours each day for five days) caused a marked short-term reduction of sperm quality.

The bottom line is that men, who use mobile phones on a regular basis are believed to lose about 30 per cent of their active sperm cells. Persons who carry their mobile phones in pockets of their pants are putting their potency at great danger. Scientists say that even in sleep mode, the mobile phone is as harmful as when switched on.

There is currently limited evidence, but cell phones have been claimed to cause cancer, especially cancer of the brain. Saturday Vanguard is privy to a Danish study in which the possible association between use of cellular telephones and development of a type of brain cancer called Acoustic neuroma. The study carried out between 2000 and 2002, produced data with information on use of cellular telephones from personal interviews, data from medical records, and the results of radiologic examinations. From the study, it was discovered that while overall estimated relative risk from cell phone use for 10 years or more did not increase acoustic neuroma risk over that of short-term users, there is cause for caution. Furthermore, it was shown that tumours did not occur more frequently on the side of the head on which the telephone was typically used, and that the size of the tumour did not correlate with the pattern of cell phone use.

The results of the prospective, population-based, nationwide study, which included a large number of long-term users of cellular telephones, do not completely exonerate cell phone use and risk of development of acoustic neuroma. There are concerns because hand-held cell phones are used close to the head, that the radiofrequency energy produced by the devices may affect the brain and nervous system tissue in the head. Research have focused on whether radiofrequency energy can cause malignant cancer.

Widespread use of cellular telephones has heightened concerns about possible adverse health effects. Previously, cellular telephone use was not associated with increased risk for brain tumours, acoustic neuromas, salivary gland tumours, eye tumours, or leukaemias and there was no trend with time since first subscription. Worldwide use of cellular telephones has raised concerns about possible adverse health effects. The reasons for these fears are obvious. A telecommunications expert told Saturday Vanguard that during operation, the antenna of a cellular telephone emits powerful radio frequency electromagnetic fields that can penetrate 4-6 cm into the human brain when the device is held close to the ear. He noted that in view of the localized nature of exposure during cellular telephone use, research has usually focused on tumours of the head and neck, particularly brain tumours, salivary gland tumors and other melanomas.

Essentially, to date, overall epidemiologic evidence has not suggested increased risk for any tumour among cellular telephone users with less than approximately 10 years of use. Most studies have not found a statistically significant overall association with the risk of brain tumours for use of 10 or more years except for about a handful for which methodologic issues have been raised. In Nigeria where cell phones were introduced relatively recently, there are comparatively few persons who have used cell phones for 10 or more years.

Handheld mobile phones were officially introduced into Nigeria around 2000 unlike in Europe where many the devices have held sway since the mid 1980s. This makes the average Nigerian population unsuitable for a study aimed at testing the hypothesis that long-term mobile phone use increases the risk of brain tumors. Comparatively, population-based case-control studies in Denmark, Sweden and Finland show those cases of malignant parotid gland tumours are regularly diagnosed amongst regular mobile phone use, regardless of duration. Similar results were found for more than 10 years’ duration of mobile phone use.

The risk estimate did not increase, regardless of type of phone and amount of use, making researchers to conclude that the increased standardized incidence ratio for cervical cancer among cellular telephone users is often difficult to interpret. There are three main reasons why people are concerned that cellular telephones (“wireless” or “mobile” telephones) may cause certain types of cancer. One is that they emit radiofrequency (RF) energy, a form of radiation cancer, which is under investigation for its effects on the human body. In Nigeria, cellular telephone technology is relatively new and there are no long-term studies of the effects of RF energy from cellular telephones on the human body.

The number of cellular telephone users is increasing rapidly. According to the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), there are now at least eight million active subscribers to cellular telephone services in the country. This is an increase from a few hundred thousand users just seven years ago. There are estimations that by 2010, there will be about 60 million subscribers in Nigeria and at least 3.5 billion cell phone users worldwide. For these and other less obvious reasons, it is important to learn whether radiofrequency energy affects human health, and to provide reassurance if it does not. Radiofrequency energy, also called radio waves, is a form of electromagnetic radiation that can be ionizing (high-frequency) or non-ionizing (low-frequency).

Experts told Saturday Vanguard that radiofrequency energy is a non-ionizing (low-frequency) type of electromagnetic radiation. It is known that ionizing radiation, such as that produced by x-ray machines, can present a health risk at high levels of exposure. However, it is not yet known whether non-ionizing radiation poses a cancer risk. The most important use of radiofrequency energy is for telecommunications.

In Nigeria, cell phones operate in a frequency ranging from about 1,800 to 2,200 megahertz (MHz) - a range in which radiation produced is in the form of non-ionizing radiofrequency energy as compared to electrical appliances like AM/FM radio and VHF/UHF television sets. Essentially, radiofrequency energy produces heat, which can increase body temperature and damage those parts exposed to it. It is generally agreed that the amount of radiofrequency energy encountered by the general public is too low to produce significant tissue heating or an increase in body temperature. However, it is also agreed that further research is needed to determine what effects, if any, low-level non-ionizing RF energy has on the body and whether it is dangerous to people.

But it is argued that intensity of radiofrequency energy emitted by cellular telephones depends on the level of the signal sent to or from the nearest base station. A geographic area serviced by a base unit is often referred to as a “cell ” which is why these devices are called “cellular” telephones or “cell” phones. When a call is placed from a cellular telephone, a signal is sent from the antenna of the phone to the nearest base station antenna. The base station routes the call through a switching center, where the call can be transferred to another cellular telephone, another base station, or to the local land-line telephone system.

The farther a cellular telephone is from the base station antenna, the higher the power level needed to maintain the connection. This distance, in part, determines the amount of radiofrequency energy exposure to the user.
Findings show that a cell phone user’s level of exposure to radiofrequency energy depends on several factors. These include the number and duration of calls, the amount of cellular telephone traffic at a given time, the distance from the nearest cellular base station (a low-powered radio transmitter that communicates with a user’s cell phone), the quality of the transmission, how far the antenna is extended, and the size of the handset. Essentially, a cell phone’s main source of radiofrequency energy is its antenna. The antenna of the hand-held cellular telephones is in the handset, which is typically held against the side of the head while the telephone is in use.

The closer the antenna is to the head, the greater a people expected exposure to radiofrequency energy. The amount of radiofrequency energy absorbed decreases rapidly with increasing distance between the antenna and the user. Experts say hands-free kits are a relatively recent feature that can be used with cell phones for convenience and comfort. These systems reduce the amount of radiofrequency energy exposure to the head because the phone, which is the source of radiofrequency energy, is not placed against the head. However, most studies conducted on cell phone use and cancer risk have focused on hand-held models not equipped with hands-free systems, since they deliver the most radiofrequency energy to the user.

Saturday Vanguard gathered that many studies have already been done, and research is ongoing. Many of these studies found that the use of hand-held cellular telephones is unrelated to the risk of brain cancer, but stress that additional studies covering longer periods of cellular telephone are desirable. Other results showed no evidence of increasing risk with increasing years of use, or average minutes of use per day and that brain tumours did not occur more often than expected on the side of the head on which participants reported using their phone.

There have been series of allegations about the potential health hazards of cell phones and other types of hand-held transceivers in causing cancer. In addition, there have also been numerous objections to siting of TV, radio and cell phone transmission facilities because of a fear of cancer induction. Saturday Vanguard is privy to research studies suggesting that exposure to radiofrequency radiation increases cancer (lymphoma) incidence in laboratory animals. It is evidences like this that contribute to the controversy. On the whole, event though concensus is that epidermiological evidence for an association between radiofrequency radiation and cancer has been found to be weak and inconsistent, it remains an important fact that cell phone radiation should not be taken for granted.
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Source: Vanguard, Sola Ogundipe & Chioma Obinna, 19 Apr 2008

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