It's Personal: brain tumors and cell phones

This scary headline has been in the news a lot lately. Being diagnosed with a brain tumor two years ago was a frightening time in my life and seeing these headlines is a reminder. Cell phones are a relatively new technology (about 15 years in the U.S.) and no one knows yet, scientifically, what the long-term effects will be. There is latency period of about 20 years after exposure to radiation and finding a tumor in your body (paraphrasing Dr. Sanjay Gupta).

The neurosurgeons don’t know what caused my brain tumor, but it is ironic that the tumor growth started on my left acoustic nerve. I use my left ear for phone use and was a heavy cell-phone user. There seems to be a correlation to me; plus I’m most likely someone who is more sensitive to environmental factors than others. The doctor’s don’t believe my brain tumor is related to my breast cancer diagnosis 5 years ago either…but who knows.

Per Dr. Sanjay Gupta (a neurosurgeon): “Cell phones use non-ionizing radiation, which is very different from the ionizing radiation of X-rays, which everyone agrees are harmful. Non-ionizing radiation won’t strip electrons or bust up DNA. It’s more like very low power microwaves. Short term, these microwaves are likely harmless, but long-term could be a different story. Anyway, who likes the idea of a microwave, even a low-powered one, next to their head all day?”

My husband and I encourage our teens to use a wired earpiece, not a wireless blue-tooth, and texting is preferred. Their brains are still developing…and we don’t like the idea of a “low-powered microwave” next to our heads all the time.

Cell phones are not going to go away. Most people will probably roll their eyes regarding this precautionary tale. But it really doesn’t hurt to use an earpiece with your cell phone and is worth the small investment in my humble opinion.


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