Illustration: Kagan McLeod
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Radiofrequency Energy from Cell Phones
Science says: Cell phones emit radio frequency (RF) energy, a type of radiation deemed "possibly carcinogenic" by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. Unlike the radiation from a CT scan, RF energy isn't strong enough to break DNA bonds, but the tissues near the ear you use when you're on the phone can absorb it. Some research suggests that this could slightly increase your risk of developing brain tumors, but at least two studies that looked at brain tumor incidence among people who used cell phones regularly for ten years or more found no connection. While such news is reassuring, the medical community believes it's difficult to know the health consequences of cell phone use until longer-term studies are done.
For safety's sake: Avoid keeping the phone pressed up against your ear; I use the speaker phone or a hands-free headset to reduce my RF exposure. Whenever possible, I also wait until I have strong cell phone reception to make calls; the weaker the signal, the more RF energy the phone emits to keep calls from dropping. At night, don't sleep with your phone right next to your bed—it still releases RF when it's transmitting data as you get pinged with e-mails and texts.