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29 May 2016

Who Cares If Cellphones Might Cause Cancer? They Are Already Horrible

Image Getty, Image Blend Images
Who cares if cellphones might cause cancer? They’re already the worst.
by Lance Ulanoff, Mashable,
28 May 2016

Cellphones probably don’t cause cancer, but even if they did, there’s ample proof you wouldn’t stop using them.

It’s worth remembering this as we face some pretty startling news: Cellphones might, under certain circumstances, increase the risk of some types of cancer in certain male rats. At least, that's what one new study tells us.

The study is far from conclusive. Similarly exposed female rats did not grow tumors. And the results of another part of the study, about a group of mice who also lived through many hours of cellphone radiation, are not out yet.

No matter what the findings, this study simply can’t turn cellphones into a bad thing. It can’t because cellphones are already horrible.

Let’s look at some of the real ways in which cellphones are terrible for you.

Addiction

We are obsessed with our cellphones.

A 2015 Pew Research Center report put U.S. smartphone use at 64 percent. It also showed that as many as 19 percent of those smartphone owners were heavily dependent on it for online access.

If you own a cellphone, you’re likely addicted to it. A recent Common Sense Media studyfound that both parents (27 percent) and teens (59 percent) feel addicted to their mobile devices.

Merriam Webster defines addiction as the “compulsive need for and use of a habit-forming substance (as heroin, nicotine, or alcohol) characterized by tolerance and by well-defined physiological symptoms upon withdrawal.”

Substitute in “cellphones” and it still works:

The compulsive need for and use of a cellphone, characterized by tolerance and by well-defined physiological symptoms upon withdrawal.

Addiction is never a good thing.

The Common Sense Media study found that 36 percent of parents and teens argue about their cellphone use on a daily basis. It also found that 78 percent of teens are checking their cellphones on at least an hourly basis. Sixty-nine percent of parents do the same.

If you don’t think the addiction to cellphones is real, try not using yours for a day or more. A 2011 Bournemouth University study found that subjects reported physiological and physiological symptoms akin to drug-use withdrawal.

Texting and driving
Almost as soon as Martin Cooper made the first mobile phone call in 1973, companies were figuring out how to put them in cars.

For the first 30 years, cellphones and automobiles got along fine. Then along came texting and then texting and driving, two wholly incompatible words that, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, results in thousands of deaths and hundreds of thousands of injuries each year.

We know this is a terrible thing to do, and yet more than half of all cellphone-owning teens and parents admit that they check their smartphones while driving.

Even outside the car, cellphones prove to be such a distraction that people are literallywalking into things.

Selfies

Cellphones rarely leave our firm, sweaty grip and this is often because we don’t want to miss an awesome selfie, which can also result in damage, injury and even death.

Earlier this month, someone climbed onto a priceless statue so he could take a selfie with it. The statue fell and shattered into at least a dozen irreparable pieces.

In 2015, there were more reported selfie deaths than deaths from shark attacks. (In all fairness to sharks, however, they rarely attack humans.)

And when selfies aren’t hurting people, they’re killing animals. Tourists cannot stop grabbing unsuspected species for what usually turns out to be animal-life-threatening photos.

Cellphones are dirty

Because you never put your cellphone down – even taking it to the bathroom – it is now one of the dirtiest things you own. A 2011 study noted that 1-in-6 phones have fecal matter on them.

Even if you don’t believe that, think about where your phone goes and then count the number of times you’ve cleaned it.

It’s gross.

Sleep deprivation

How many times have you rolled over in bed and right on-top of your cellphone? You and a lot of other people are sleeping with their cellphones, which means you were likely looking at it before going to sleep – if, that is, you could actually fall asleep.

Studies have shown that the blue light emitted from these devices serves to wake us up. Sleep deprivation messes with your appetite, your memory and even the health of your skin.

Why do you think Apple finally introduced Night Shift in iOS 9.3? In theory, that warmer light color makes it easier to nod off.

Too much information

Having constant access to a world of information and news means you have constant access and can’t stop looking. This can lead to information overload, which is about as bad as it sounds.

In 2015 MIT neuroscientist Earl Miller explained to The Guardian that we’re not even wired to handle all this information — certainly not all at once.

“When people think they’re multitasking, they’re actually just switching from one task to another very rapidly," he said. "And every time they do, there’s a cognitive cost in doing so.”

We may be overloading our brains with too many details and tasks that we can’t manage. The fact that all that information is there on our cellphones for us to access makes us think wehave to access it now. That can lead to some stress-making.

Poor communication skills

Cellphones and texting may also be robbing us of crucial communication skills. Teens no longer talk face-to-face and, therefore, now barely know how to do so.

Imagine what the next generation of job interview candidates will be like. They’ll look for one horrible moment at the interviewer and the stare down at their empty hands, hoping that a cellphone will magically materialize and start asking them questions.

Put simply, there are countless, tangible ways that cellphones are bad for us. A largely inconclusive study about the possibility that the same kind of radiation cellphones produce might increase the risk of some forms of cancer in a small group of male rats is probably not what we should be worried about.

But what if other cellphone studies show mobile phones do cause cancer in humans? Would you throw away your phone then? Probably not, according to the evidence.

Have something to add to this story? Share it in the comments.

http://mashable.com/2016/05/27/cellphones-terrible-analysis/?utm_cid=mash-com-Tw-main-link#5Ru_hzawqaqc

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