You’re probably more attached to your smartphone than you want to admit, between calls, texts, and of course, a litany of cool apps—and it’s probably been the case for years. Unfortunately, there are potentially severe effects cell-phone radiation can have on your health (in addition to the skin damage you can endure from the blue light emitted from screens, known as HEV light). In fact, California just issued statewide health guidelines on the matter, as reported by Women’s Health. But how worried should you be?
“Some laboratory experiments and human health studies have suggested the possibility that long-term, high use of cell phones may be linked to certain types of cancer and other health effects,” California’s Department of Public Health notes.
Released by the California Division of Environmental and Occupational Disease Control within the Department of Public Health, the guidelines note that “some laboratory experiments and human health studies have suggested the possibility that long-term, high use of cell phones may be linked to certain types of cancer and other health effects, including brain cancer and tumors of the acoustic nerve (needed for hearing and maintaining balance) and salivary glands, lower sperm counts and inactive or less mobile sperm, headaches and effects on learning and memory, hearing, behavior, and sleep.”
This is reportedly due to electromagnetic radiation called radio frequency (RF) energy, which is how signals are processed, received and sent from cell towers. Other devices that use the same kind of energy include the TV and microwave. But don’t smash your TV mid-Netflix binge, stop heating up that soup, or throw away your cell phone for a permanent digital detox just yet.
“The reality is, we just haven’t had enough time or done enough studies to understand the effects of [cellular-phone radiation].” —Sophia Gushee, home detox expert
Sophia Gushee, Well+Good Council member and home detox expert agrees with California’s sentiment, and in fact thinks it’s long overdue. “I think [more states] should follow suit and encourage precautionary measures,” says Gushee. “The reality is, we just haven’t had enough time or done enough studies to understand the effects of [cellular-phone radiation],” as some could take decades to manifest.
Still, the research should be taken with a grain of salt—even California’s Department of Public Health agrees. “These studies do not establish the link definitely, however, and scientists disagree about whether cell phones cause these health problems and how great the risks might be,” the guidelines state.
Translation: Don’t panic. But if you tend to be a worrier (*slowly raises hand*), keep in mind the tips California’s health guidelines offer for minimizing radiation from your smartphone: 1. Keep your phone away from your body when possible. 2. Reduce or avoid use altogether when it already requires a high amount of radio frequency (i.e. in a fast-moving vehicle or when service is limited and your bars are low). 3. Keep it far from your bed while you sleep.
Hey, if nothing else, this is another great reason to put down your smartphone every now and then and unplug.