Help me reduce cell phone radiation to my brain!
December 17, 2008 4:31 AM   Subscribe

Can anyone tell me if a blue tooth headset or a handsfree kit will help lessen the frying of my brain? This corded handset claims that radiation emissions are reduced by 95%. Is that right? What's my best option, other than speakerphone or not worrying about it?
posted by surenoproblem to Health & Fitness (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: A massive study of 420,000+ cell phone users does not support the claims that radiation from cell phones contribute to cancer.
posted by proj at 4:57 AM on December 17, 2008 [5 favorites]

if you are concerned in spite of the study proj linked, consider that a bluetooth headset has a radio that is powerful enough to reach about 10 feet, while the phone itself has a radio powerful enough to reach, what, half a mile? a mile? something like that. so the bluetooth is going to give you, overall, a lot less RF exposure.
posted by rmd1023 at 5:36 AM on December 17, 2008

Right. If you don't trust the scientific study, then try to keep anything wireless away from your head. So don't use bluetooth. The best thing you can do is use a wired headset, and keep the back of the phone facing away from your body, as the back of most modern phones is where the antenna is.

Science is often wrong, I do this myself :)
posted by teabag at 6:45 AM on December 17, 2008

proj is absolutely right - there's no evidence that mobile 'phones cause cancer. There simply isn't enough energy in radio waves to damage DNA in the way required.

Bluetooth uses higher energy waves than mobile 'phones do, but at lower power. Corded handsfree kits will act like an antenna and channel energy to your head.

The bottom line is that you're probably better off just using your 'phone as normal, and if you're worried, don't keep it in your pocket.
posted by alby at 7:07 AM on December 17, 2008

Teabag, I'm pretty sure your phone doesn't use a directional transmitter or wavelengths where that would mean very much.

The thing about bluetooth is it has a maximum range measured in yards. I'm not sure what the wattage is, but it isn't much. Your cell phone itself is the much more powerful transmitter, with a range of about a mile. Again, not sure of the wattage but you can look these things up and calculate the fall off if you're really concerned. Depending on where you live it's the radio station that can be heard for another 50 miles out that is hitting you with the most radio-frequency radiation.

And of course a wire that actually is being used to move electrons around has a magnetic field.

Personally, before I worried about this, I'd worry about all the IR wavelength that are much higher energy and which you are mostly transparent to and avoid anything much warmer than about 100°F.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 7:20 AM on December 17, 2008

Science is often wrong, I do this myself :)

Do what? Deny reality?
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 7:55 AM on December 17, 2008 [1 favorite]

So how bad are bluetooth headphones/sets then? I didn't quite follow.
posted by Iteki at 8:09 AM on December 17, 2008

It's difficult to imagine how you would construct a bluetooth headset that both functioned reliably and somehow produced less radiation. It is the basic functional nature of the device that is producing what you are trying to avoid. If it's such a big concern for you, rationally or otherwise, I'd say your best bet would be a corded headset.
posted by frieze at 9:42 AM on December 17, 2008

Best answer: I can't offer you any recommendations, since I know very little about cell phones and headsets (I still have an old-fashioned corded phone, land line only, and I like it that way). But you might find this article useful - it's followed by comments from a doctor who once discouraged the use of cell phones, but is impressed enough by bluetooth technology that he changed his tune.

I know of several medical professionals who are not convinced that the question of whether cell phone use increases cancer risk has been conclusively settled, so it might be a good idea to examine the research and evidence on both sides. It's still a controversial topic, and the debate amongst medical and health professionals sometimes gets heated.
posted by velvet winter at 12:08 PM on December 17, 2008

Personal thoughts on the "brain-frying" of phones, with no suggestion on blue-toothy things: Japan's first commercial mobile phone service was launched by the NTT in 1978. By November 2007, the total number of mobile phone subscriptions in the world had reached 3.3 billion, or half of the human population (although some users have multiple subscriptions, or inactive subscriptions), which also makes the mobile phone the most widely spread technology and the most common electronic device in the world (nicked from wikipedia.)

Since there is such wide-spread use of cellphones, wouldn't there be a notable increase in brain tumors or other head-based concerns for large sectors of the world population? Teens and pre-teens probably use the phone more than any segment (though a lot of texting might off-set this), wouldn't they have more issues as they are still developing? In short, I think there would be world-wide trends that haven't been raised to my knowledge. Couldn't a simple study of medically treated ailments over the past decades be charted, showing any significant increases? (Has this charting already been done?)
posted by filthy light thief at 1:17 PM on December 17, 2008

I've also heard solar radiation and other daily doses of radiation would be a greater concern than cell phones, but I don't know if there are specific worries from cell phones in specific.
posted by filthy light thief at 1:19 PM on December 17, 2008

Best answer: Firstly, if the Head of the Cancer Institute at U PIttsburgh is worried about cellphone use, I would be too.
Secondly, there is research evidence that using a hands-free headset is actually worse than using a cellphone on its own. Apparently, the headsets channel the radiation directly into your brain.
Some tips:
- Cellphones produce radiation even when you are not making or receiving a call. Turn it off when at your desk and other landline phones
- Don't keep your phone in a pocket near to any vital organs (heart, liver, kidneys, lungs). Keep it in a briefcase or a bag that is carried away from your body
- Use the phone briefly when you call someone - this also has the plus that you'll save a bunch on your calling plan!
posted by Susurration at 2:40 PM on December 17, 2008

Remember that there are different kinds of radiation- the heat coming from your radiator is radiation, but it's not the bad kind. Neither is cell phone radiation. There's just not enough power coming out of the phone to cause any damage.
posted by gjc at 3:22 PM on December 17, 2008

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