Show Us the New Healthcare Plan

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Now that the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has released their report stating that 18-million Americans would lose health insurance in the first year if Republicans move ahead with plans to repeal the Affordable Care Act, Americans need answers to the following questions:

1. Will people pay higher healthcare premiums for the same coverage?

2. Will the new plan fix lifetime limits on coverage?

3. How will the 130-million Americans with pre-existing conditions be treated?

4. How will out-of-pocket expenses be calculated?

5. What other services are likely to be cut?

Republicans, please answer these questions forthrightly. Your eagerness to repeal the ACA without a defined plan is undermining your credibility.

Consumer Reports Blasts Effectiveness of Cancer Screening

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(From Consumer Reports, abcNews and other sources)

Older blonde woman in sunWe trust Consumer Reports when it comes to buying our next car or fridge. But now, for the first time ever, consumers can get ratings of cancer screening tests the same way they do for their toaster.

Of the 11 common screenings evaluated by the consumer watchdog group, only three were recommended — and even then, only for certain age groups.  Consumer Reports gave their most positive ratings for:

  1. Cervical cancer screening in women age 21 to 65
  2. Colon cancer screening in people age 50 to 75.

Mammography received a less enthusiastic endorsement and then only for women age 50 to 74.  As for screenings for bladder, lung, skin, oral, prostate, ovarian, pancreatic and testicular cancers, none made the grade.

The Consumer Reports recommendations are based on evidence-based reviews from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF). USPSTF is an independent panel of prevention and evidence-based medicine experts appointed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The agency makes the evidence-based recommendations physicians look to when treating and advising patients. However, these messages have not traditionally targeted patients. That, said Dr. John Santa, is the point of the Consumer Reports rating guide.

“The USPSTF has great evidence-based data which was not being translated to patients,” said Santa, who runs Consumer Reports’ Health Ratings Center. “We saw there was a need to get this information to consumers, so we did.”

The way Consumer Reports opted to convey this information was by using their traditional rating system, applying it to screening tests. In this case, the guide rated tests on whether the benefits of having the screening outweigh the harms.

As I have repeatedly warned, diagnosis and treatment are the money-makers in the cancer industry.  Actual prevention is not.  Doctors and hospitals rely on these tests, in large part, to keep the diagnosis and treatment pipeline full.  The result remains over-diagnosis and over-treatment of many cancers, especially breast and prostate cancers.  These tests and the resulting treatments have been grossly over-marketed.

“Early detection saves lives,” is a widely-held assumption that drives aggressive cancer-screening campaigns. It’s what persuades women to host “mammogram parties” where they gather friends for wine, cheese, massages, and breast-cancer screenings. It’s what persuades men to offer up blood for prostate-cancer tests at hockey games or onboard a huge red bus parked at sporting-goods stores.

But the big red bus and other direct-to-consumer screening efforts raise big red flags.  For one, those campaigns may not be entirely altruistic. In exchange for snacks and door prizes, the radiology clinics and hospitals that are often behind the campaigns benefit from a new crop of paying customers.   Zero, the nonprofit group that offers free prostate-cancer screening at events around the country, counts among its partners doctors and businesses that benefit financially from cancer testing and treatment.

But most important, the message that you have nothing to lose and everything to gain from being screened—that is, to be tested for a cancer before you have any symptoms of it—simply isn’t true.

“The medical and public-health community has systematically exaggerated the benefits of screening for years and downplayed the harms,” says H. Gilbert Welch, M.D., a professor of medicine at the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice in Lebanon, N.H.

In a recent article in the New England Journal of Medicine, Welch found that the number of early breast-cancer cases had shot up since mammography became common three decades ago but that advanced cancer cases had not declined. Welch estimated that in 2008 more than 70,000 women 40 and older were found to have small, non-aggressive cancers that were treated even though statistically only 1-in-1,000 would be life-threatening.

Our friends at the American Cancer Society, long the leading proponent of breast cancer screening starting at age 40, even agreed, “When it comes to screening, most people see only the positives,” said Otis Brawley, M.D., chief medical officer at ACS.  “They don’t just underestimate the negatives, they don’t even know they exist.”

The marketing message that early detection saves lives is simple and compelling.  But the reality is today it is much more complicated.  The problem is how to get that more complex message to the public when it’s so different than what they’ve come to believe.  We at Cancer Recovery Foundation will continue to lead that effort.

CANCER: 50 Essential Things to Do, 2013 EDITION

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Cancer 50 Essential Things to Do 2013 Edition



CANCER: 50 Essential Things To Do has been the go-to guide for people affected by cancer for over twenty years. Now, CANCER: 50 Essential Things to Do (January 2013, 978-0-452-29828-6, $16.00) has been revised and updated with new information to help readers take charge of their diagnosis and choose hope over fear in their recovery process.

Written by a cancer survivor, the book is an inspiring, action-oriented roadmap for those who choose to adopt a stance of optimism and take charge of their diagnosis. Greg Anderson was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer in 1984 and given only 30 days to live. Refusing to accept the hopelessness of this prognosis, he went searching for people who had lived although their doctors had told them they were “terminal.” His findings from interviews with over 16,000 cancer survivors form the strategies and action points for what has become an international cancer recovery movement.

Anderson provides a completely revised and updated plan for anyone who has been recently diagnosed with cancer, are suffering a relapse, or are in remission. New material in the book includes:

  • The latest developments in alternative and complementary health practices
  • Compelling new facts about how changes to nutrition and activity level can affect the volatility and spread of cancer cells
  • Startling information about how up to 80% of cancers can be avoided with proper preventative care
  • Cautionary information about the risks of overtreatment
  • Powerful evidence about the link between Vitamin D consumption and a decrease in cancer cell activities
  • Thoroughly updated resources and exercises

Anderson takes an even stronger stance against the traditional cancer care model, promoting a holistic “integrative cancer care” model that is being adopted increasingly more by those who want control over their treatment plan. In his quest to promote the idea of “creating wellness,” over “fighting illness,” the author provides a hopeful message that is as informative as it is inspiring.

GREG ANDERSON is the founder of the Cancer Recovery Foundation International group of charities, a global affiliation of national organizations whose mission is to help all people prevent and survive cancer. The Cancer Recovery Foundation focuses on integrated cancer care programs, improving the lives of all people touched by cancer. It funds no clinical research or medical treatments and has established affiliates in the Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Liz Keenan, Plume Director of Publicity

About Plume: Plume is a member if the internationally renowned Penguin Group (USA) and boasts many bestselling and prize-winning authors, including Dorothy Allison, David Benioff, Jennifer Chiaverini, Tracy Chevalier , Lev Grossman , Daniel Levitin, Danica McKellar, Joyce Carol Oates, Marisa de los Santos Natasha Solomon, Jill Bolte Taylor,  and many others. Penguin Group (USA) is one of the leading U.S. adult and children’s trade book publishers, owning a wide range of imprints and trademarks, including Penguin Press, Berkley Books, Penguin, Gotham Books, G.P. Putnam’s Sons, Plume, New American Library, Viking, Philomel, and Riverhead Books, among others. The Penguin Group (USA) is part of Pearson, plc, the international media company.

Komen Controversy: Opportunity to Examine “Life-saving Mammograms”

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The daily news reports over the resignations of the Founder and the President of Komen for the Cure are filled with drama. That Nancy Brinker’s life’s work seems to have been tarnished makes for compelling media. But the best outcome of this coverage could be that America engages in a serious discussion about the dangers of breast cancer screening.

Mammography: Time for a New Screening Protocol
Despite the loud protests of many breast cancer organizations and advocacy groups, the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force got it right. Women do not need as many mammograms as they are receiving.

In November of 2009, the Task Force updated its recommendations on breast cancer screening. Previous standards stated that women be screened annually from the age of 40 onwards. A furor arose over the Task Force recommendation that women between 40-49 years old should not have annual mammograms.

Overtreatment of breast cancer is epidemic, a toxic tragedy that leaves the health of hundreds-of-thousands of women compromised for the remainder of their lives. The over-treatment starts with over-diagnosis in early screening for breast cancer—the belief that early detection is the best protection. It is not.

Cancer screening enjoys virtually unquestioned cultural acceptance. On the surface, the logic of screening for breast cancer seems unassailable. A mammogram can pick up lesions as small as 0.5 cm, a size that you are seldom able to feel. The test can detect up to 85-percent of all breast cancers. In short, screening for breast cancer seems to make sense.

But the screening is not without significant shortcomings and health risks. With mammography, the weak points of screening include:

  • If a woman has dense breasts, a lump is typically not visible.
  • In women under 50-years of age, at least 25-percent of the tumors will be missed.
  • In women with smaller breasts, the screening is even less accurate.

According to Dr. Susan Love, mammograms will miss cancers between 9- and 20-percent of the time. And if nothing is found, women are given a false sense of security that all is well.

There’s more. Approximately 5-percent of all mammograms read as positive for cancer. Of these five, 97.5-percent will be false positives. This means no cancer is present. In other words, out of every 1,000 mammograms, fifty are read as positive and between one and two will actually turn out to be breast cancer. The fact is mammograms are, for the most part, inconclusive. Yet we treat them as the gold standard of breast cancer screening.

Early screening brings a host of related risks of which American women remain uninformed. Radiation from routine mammography poses significant cumulative risks of initiating and promoting breast cancer. Contrary to conventional assurances that radiation exposure from mammography is minimal and tolerable, we have known for at least forty years that the pre-menopausal breast is highly sensitive to radiation. Each exposure increases breast cancer risk resulting in at least a cumulative 10-percent increased risk over ten years of pre-menopausal screening.

Mammography also poses a risk from breast compression. As early as 1928, physicians were warned to handle “cancerous breasts with care for fear of accidentally disseminating cells” and spreading cancer. Mammography requires tight and often painful compression of the breast, particularly in pre-menopausal women. Experts have warned that compression may lead to distant and lethal spread of malignant cells by rupturing small blood vessels in or around small, as yet undetected breast cancers.

Mammography’s reliability is seldom discussed by the medical providers with their patients. These discussions must become the norm. The message:

  1. Missed cancers resulting in false negative readings are especially common in pre-menopausal women. This is due to the dense and highly glandular structure of their breasts and increased proliferation late in their menstrual cycle.
  2. Missed cancers are also common in post-menopausal women on estrogen replacement therapy, as about 20 percent develop breast densities that make their mammograms as difficult to read as those of pre-menopausal women.
  3. False positive readings, which are mistakenly diagnosed cancers, are common with mammography. Again, they are common in women on estrogen replacement therapy. False positives result in needless anxiety, more mammograms and unnecessary biopsies. For a woman with multiple high-risk factors, including a strong family history of breast cancer, prolonged use of contraceptives and early menarche, the cumulative risk of false positives increases to “as high as 100 percent” over a decade’s screening.

The widespread and virtually unchallenged acceptance of this early screening protocol has resulted in a dramatic increase in the diagnosis of ductal carcinoma-in-situ (DCIS), a pre-invasive cancer. DCIS was historically recognized as micro-calcifications. For decades, they were considered benign but suspicious. The screening guidance was another test in six months to determine if there were noticeable changes.

Today DCIS is widely treated as actual breast cancer. The treatment is defended by the medical community because with current testing and diagnostic procedures, it is not possible to know if a given DCIS may become malignant or if it will disappear. Some 80-percent of all DCIS never become invasive even if left untreated. Furthermore, the breast cancer mortality from DCIS is the same, approximately 1-percent, both for women diagnosed and treated early and for those diagnosed later following the development of invasive cancer. Early detection of DCIS does not reduce mortality. This fact is startling and seems counterintuitive. But the data speaks the truth.

A Clarion Call: New Screening Guidelines
Studies do show that screening mammography does reduce the death rate in women over 50 years of age by approximately 30-percent. Early detection in this age group works. However, equal results are available from much less-invasive and non-toxic clinical breast examinations coupled with breast self-exams.

What is more worrisome are new studies which show that in women under 50, screening mammography can increase the death rate from breast cancer by up to 50-percent. The suspected reason is because these women accumulate radiation toxicity. Even more, other studies show screening mammography leads to more frequent diagnosis and aggressive treatment of breast cancer. These same studies also show aggressive screening and treatment does not decrease overall breast cancer mortality.

America clearly needs new breast cancer screening guidelines. Below is a wise approach widely accepted in countries other than the United States for women under 50-years old:

  • Employ annual clinical breast examinations and monthly breast self-examinations as your primary early detection protocol.
  • Once a year, every year, without fail, schedule an appointment with your healthcare provider to perform a clinical breast examination.
  • Once a month, every month, without fail, set aside 15 minutes to conduct thorough breast self-examination. Perform it on the first day of menstruation.
  • Schedule a mammogram only if needed for diagnosis of a suspected lump. Even then, be sure to schedule that mammogram within the first 14 days of your menstrual cycle.

For women over 50-years old:

  • Employ annual clinical breast examinations and monthly breast self-examinations as your primary early detection protocol.
  • Once a year, every year, without fail, schedule an appointment with your healthcare provider to perform a clinical breast examination.
  • Once a month, every month, without fail, set aside 15 minutes to conduct thorough breast self-examination. Schedule it on the first day of your period if you are still menstruating.
  • Schedule a mammogram if you discover a suspicious change in the feel of your breast. Even then, be sure to schedule that mammogram within the first 14 days of your menstrual cycle if you are still menstruating.
  • Employ mammography screening every other year.

Annual clinical breast examination combined with monthly breast self-examination is a safe and effective alternative to mammography. That most breast cancers are first recognized by women themselves was admitted in 1985 by the American Cancer Society, the leading advocate of routine mammography for all women over the age of 40. “We must keep in mind the fact that at least 90-percent of the women who develop breast carcinoma discover the tumors themselves” Furthermore, as previously shown, “training increases reported breast self-examination frequency, confidence, and the number of small tumors found.”

A pooled analysis of several studies showed that women who regularly performed breast self-examinations detected their cancers much earlier and with fewer positives nodes and smaller tumors than women failing to examine themselves. Plus breast self examinations also enhance earlier detection of missed cancers, especially in pre-menopausal women.

Let’s be clear. The effectiveness of breast self-exam critically depends on careful training by skilled professionals. Further, confidence in self-exams is enhanced with annual clinical breast examinations by an experienced professional using structured individual training. And finally, this strategy requires discipline. Every year, a clinical breast exam; every month, a breast self-exam. If a woman cannot or will not meet that standard of discipline, the entire process stands in jeopardy.

The question of more screening extends to what have come to be known as the “breast cancer genes,” BRCA1 (BReast CAncer gene one) and BRCA2 (BReast CAncer gene two). Women who inherit a mutation in either of these genes have a higher-than-average risk of developing breast cancer and ovarian cancer.

The function of the BRCA genes is to keep breast cells growing normally and prevent any cancer cell growth. When these genes contain the mutations that are passed from generation to generation, they do not function normally and breast cancer risk increases. Abnormal BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes may account for between 5 and 10-percent of all breast cancers.

Should you choose to undergo genetic testing to find out your status? A genetic test involves giving a blood sample that can be analyzed to pick up any abnormalities in these genes. Testing for these abnormalities is not done routinely, but it may be considered on the basis of your family history and personal situation. But remember that most people who develop breast cancer have no family history of the disease.

Do mammograms save lives? The answer is very, very few. But the massive over-diagnosis and overtreatment they initiate makes routine mammography a very real health hazard. Were mammograms an automobile, The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration would have recalled them years ago. A less-is-more breast cancer screening protocol must replace our current policy. This is the first necessary shift in the evolving integrated breast cancer care model. Current annual mammography guidelines are exposing nearly all American women to exceedingly high levels of radiation. It’s part of the toxic tragedy that is making us sicker—and poorer.

Cell Phones & Cancer

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By Greg Anderson, Founder & CEO
Cancer Recovery Foundation Group

Q:  Do cell phones cause cancer?  A:  Maybe.
Q:  Is there good scientific evidence showing that radiation from a mobile phone has a biological impact?  A:  Definitely.
Q:  Should I be taking precautions in the use of my cell phone?  A:  Absolutely.

“If cell phones were a type of food, they simply would not be licensed.”  This statement was not uttered by some uneducated anti-technology activist, but
rather was written by British physicist and two-time Nobel nominee Dr. Gerard Hyland.  His statement was printed in the prestigious medical journal “The Lancet. “

The safety of mobile phones is a subject few consumers ever think about.  Just five years ago, the quality of the voice connection and longer battery life were the major concerns.  That has changed.

Today the evidence is mounting that mobile telephony causes a range of adverse effects in people.  The most significant research shows the possible connections between frequent cell phone use and neurological problems including an increased incidence of brain tumors.  Other studies are also documenting higher rates of “head and neck cancers” which include mouth, nose, sinuses, salivary glands, throat, and lymph nodes in the neck.

In fact, there is growing evidence that mobile telephony, including cell phones and the myriad of new devices flooding the market, may be the greatest and most under-estimated health threat in modern history.

Cellular Technology: 101
To gain a layman’s understanding of this subject, a basic understanding of cell phone technology is necessary.  Cell phones and cell phone towers emit radio-frequency energy.  This energy is in the form of radio waves, microwaves actually, of what is called non-ionizing electromagnetic radiation.  These invisible waves of energy move at the speed of light.

The basic transmission technology of mobile telephony is easily understood.  A cell phone tower or base station antenna typically sends out microwaves at a rate of sixty watts.  The actual handheld mobile device generates microwaves at rates between one and two watts.  The antenna of a handset sends signals equally in all directions while a base station produces a beam that is much more directional, depending on line-of-sight connections with other cell phone towers and other mobile devices in the area.  It’s like a giant spider web. It is also noteworthy to understand that the base stations themselves have lower-power side beams that are localized in the immediate vicinity of the tower.

The hand-held device itself also emits a low-frequency electromagnetic field (EMF) associated with current from the phone’s battery.  With mobile devices that have an energy-saving discontinuous transmission mode, there is an even lower EMF which occurs when the user is listening but not speaking.

There has been a significant shift in cell phone technology since they came on the market.  In the 1970’s, the first big and bulky handheld devices relied on what is called analog signals.  These radio waves were “on” all the time without interruption.  Our understanding of analog signals showed they did little if any damage to living tissue except for a moderate increase in temperature.

The new technology, called “3G” and “4G,” employs compressed digital signals using faster, smaller and more powerful radio waves that are “pulsed” on-and-off rather than continuous.  Because these devices are rapidly and repeatedly sending and receiving signals to the cell tower base stations, not just voice signals but the full range of multi-media services offered through today’s mobile devices, the individual’s cumulative exposure to pulsed microwave radiation can be much, much greater.

Cell Phone Biology: 101
Electromagnetic radiation is divided into two types: “ionizing” radiation such as found in x-rays and “non-ionizing” radiation found in cellular technology.  There is clearly a biological impact to ionizing radiation such as from chest x-rays, radiation therapy used in many cancer treatments and even the Transportation Security Administration’s “back-scatter” x-ray technology in use at many airports.  Too much exposure and the risk of cancer dramatically increases.

Thermal Biological Risks

The use of cell phones has a clear biological effect.  The radio frequency energy produces heat.  Think of a microwave oven as perhaps the best-known example.  Exposure to radio frequency energy heats the body.  And it is simple to record a warming of the body’s temperature especially at the point of contact with the cell phone.  There is simply no question that exposing our heads to microwave energy as we talk on our cell phones results in a rise in temperature in the nearby tissue.  Heating of tissue is a fact beyond dispute.  In the world of cell phone safety, this “hot hypothesis” remains central to our understanding and concerns.

The amount of such heat produced in a living organism depends primarily on the intensity of the radiation, as well as the body’s thermal self-regulation, once it has penetrated the tissue.  Frighteningly, excellent research indicates that effects on health begin once the temperature rise exceeds only 1°C.

The central concern is the possibility this heating results in increasing numbers of brain tumors and head and neck cancers.  But it is not only our head that is vulnerable.  Among the most thermally sensitive areas of the body, because of their low blood supply, are the eyes and the testes.  Cataract formation and reduced sperm counts are well-documented in studies of acute exposure to microwave energy.

Although much of the evidence on the link between cell phone use and cancer is disputed by the National Cancer Institute (U.S.), research from the World Health Organization’s (WHO) International Agency for Research on Cancer as well as the European Environmental Agency is unequivocal.  The evidence is significant and growing that the microwave radiation employed in cell phone technology, and the resulting “hot spots” it creates, is linked to higher cancer incidence.

In an exhaustive review released in 2011 by WHO, it was documented that  people who have used cell phones for half an hour a day for more than a decade have about twice the risk of glioma, a rare kind of brain tumor.  Not surprisingly, the glioma appeared most often on the side of their head where these people hold their phone.

Brain cancers typically take decades to develop.  The fact that such tumors are being found after 10 years in cell phone users with relatively light exposure by today’s usage standards is frightening.

Non-Thermal Biological Risks

Could it be possible that pulsed microwave radiation used in cell phone technology also exerts non-thermal influences on the human body?  It seems so.

This issue centers on the frequency or oscillations of the microwaves and their impact on physiological processes as fundamental as cell division.  Just to be clear, when we speak here of the “frequency,” this has to do with the characteristics of the vibrations of the radio waves.  This is independent from the heating of tissue and does not refer to how “frequently” we are exposed to these.

Microwave radiation has certain well-defined frequencies, some of which emulate the human body’s biological electrical activities.  Thus the incoming radio wave can potentially interfere with the orderly and exquisitely balanced functions of the body.  It’s analogous to reception distortions on a car radio.

Although this non-thermal cell biology frequency premise is not without its doubters, there is growing experimental evidence to support it.  At the cellular level, the observed evidence of exposure to microwave radiation includes:

  • A “switch on” of certain cell division process.
  • Reduced lymphocyte toxicity.
  • Increased membrane permeability.
  • Increases in chromosome aberrations

In animal studies, non-thermal microwave radiation exposure influences include:

  • Depression of immune function in chickens.
  • Increase in chick embryo mortality.
  • Increased permeability of blood-brain barrier in laboratory mice.
  • Changes in brain chemistry, including dopamine, in laboratory mice.
  • Increases in DNA strand breaks in laboratory mice.
  • Increases in lymphoma in mice.

In human studies, non-thermal microwave radiation exposures, and similarly conditioned exposures, include demonstrations of:

  • Headache
  • Blood pressure changes
  • Sleep disorders with shortening of rapid-eye-movement periods

Non-thermal effects of cell phone radiation have proved to be quite controversial in the scientific community.  The health problems are reported anecdotally and formal confirmation of such reports, based on epidemiological studies, are still to be completed.  But to deny this possibility yet admit the importance of banning the use of mobile phones on airplanes and in hospitals, both prohibitions driven solely by concerns about non-thermal interference, is grossly inconsistent.

We have underplayed the threat of cell phone radiation too long.  The message has been slow to capture public attention.  Even government acknowledgement of the problem is minimal.  And because much of the research into the potential dangers of cell phones has been funded by the cell phone industry, negative findings are routinely dismissed.  It’s understandable as such information would be detrimental to cell phone sales.

It is not surprising that Devra Davis in her excellent book Disconnect points out, “There has not been a lot of truly independent research in this field.”  In one of the most enlightening passages, Davis chronicles the work of Dariusz Leszczynski from Finland.  He holds two doctoral degrees and is a research professor in Finland’s National Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority.  He has served as a visiting professor at Harvard Medical School and is currently an adjunct professor of bioelectro-magnetics at a medical school in Hangzhou, China.  Impressive credentials.

In 2002, Leszczynski’s research showed that after just one hour of exposure to pulsed cell phone signals, the same signals that are in the phones millions of people use each and every day, changes were recorded in the shape and character of endothelial cells, the tiny membranes that line our blood vessels.  The reason this is so critically important is that breakdowns in endothelial cells are thought to be direct precursors to the formation of malignant cells.  In short, his work showed that even low levels of microwave radiation may impact the formation of cancer, especially brain cancers.

What’s more, collaborative research showed children are more vulnerable to radiation than adults.  It makes perfect sense.  Radiation that penetrates only two inches into the brain of an adult will reach much deeper into the brain of a child.  Their young skulls are thinner and their brains contain more fluid that absorbs the heat.  Even though we know this, we allow children, and especially young adolescents, to freely use this technology.  In fact, many of the new “applications” for mobile technology are aimed squarely at this age group.

Such findings should have had a dramatic effect on the cell phone industry and cell phone safety.  They did not.

Professor Leszczynski was asked about his ground-breaking study during a visit to Washington, D.C. in 2010 where he testified before the U.S. Senate.  He said, “. . . we clearly showed that radiation from a cell phone had a biological impact.  [Now] the world can no longer pretend that the only problems with cell phones occur after you can measure a change in temperature.”

But we do keep pretending . . . all of us including governments, research scientists, the cell phone industry and especially cell phone consumers.  Most people are totally unaware that radio frequency radiation causes biological changes to our bodies.  Or if they are among the few who are aware, most are in denial regarding the seriousness of the problem.

Protecting Yourself and Your Loved Ones
We can do better.  Below is a list, adapted from the Environmental Working Group (, of key personal actions you and can implement right now.  Do so and you will be doing all possible to keep you and your family safe from cell phone radiation.

  • Switch to a low-radiation phone.  Consider replacing your phone with one that emits the lowest radiation possible and still meets your needs.
  • Use a headset or speaker.  Headsets emit much less radiation than handsets.  Choose either wired or wireless.  Unfortunately experts are split on which version is safer.  Some wireless headsets emit continuous, low-level radiation, so take yours off your ear when you’re not on a call. Using your phone in speaker mode also reduces radiation to the head.
  • Listen more and talk less.  Your phone emits radiation when you talk or text, but not when you’re receiving messages. Listening more and talking less reduces your exposures.
  • Hold the phone away from your body.  Holding the phone away from your torso when you’re talking on your headset or speaker—rather than against your ear, in a pocket or on your belt—means your soft body tissues absorb less radiation.
  • Text rather than talk.  Phones use less power and radiation to send text than voice. And unlike when you speak with the phone at your ear, texting keeps radiation away from your head.
  • If you have a poor signal, stay off the phone.  Fewer signal bars on your phone means that it emits more radiation to get the signal to the tower. Make and take calls when your phone has a strong signal.
  • Limit children’s phone use.  A child’s brain absorbs twice the cell phone radiation as an adult’s.  Health agencies in at least a dozen countries recommend limits for children’s cell phone use, such as for emergency situations only.
  • Skip the radiation shield.  Radiation shields such as antenna caps or keypad covers reduce the connection quality and force the phone to transmit at a higher power with higher radiation.
  • Store your cell phone in a backpack or purse.  If you must carry it mounted on your belt, turn the keypad to face your body because the antenna is on the back and it emits much more radiation compared to the keyboard.
  • Don’t sleep with your cell phone on next to the bed or under a pillow.
  • Pregnant women should keep the phones away from their abdomen.
  • Use your cell phone less.  High-frequency users have higher incidence of reported neurological disease.  Use a landline whenever it is available.

A Personal Appeal
In the end, I am certainly not advocating banning the use of cell phones.  I use mine safely everyday of the week.  But I am urging cell phone manufacturers to make their products safer.  Safer technology exists; it is past time to implement it.  Plus I am asking for each of us to be fully aware of the dangers and take personal responsibility for curbing our exposure, and our family’s exposure, to cell phone radiation.  It’s the only way to be certain we are not damaging our body’s cells every time we are on the phone.

From:  Cancer: 50 Essential Things to Do (4th edition), Penguin/Plume, 2012

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