Smartphones and tablets a danger to children
by Marek Derkacz, MD, PhD, medexpress.pl, 25 August 2018 - auto-translation*
More and more children, and at the same time, younger and younger ones, are reaching for smartphones, tablets and other devices emitting electromagnetic radiation, among others, equipped and communicating through Wi-Fi. Also, every month the number of scientific authorities and experts, who once dealt with the problems and application of electromagnetic radiation (EMR) in warfare on a daily basis, is growing, and now they are discovering new, sometimes surprising facts and warning us about the consequences of using devices emitting electromagnetic radiation by children.
Probably no one is unfamiliar with the image of a girl or boy who plays games for hours, holding a tablet or smartphone equipped with Wi-Fi on their stomach.
According to publicly available data, a multi-year study conducted back in 2007 found that electromagnetic radiation can have negative health effects.
The study found an increased risk of glioma and neuroblastoma of the auditory nerve.
It is worth remembering that in a girl's ovaries, already from birth, there are about 400,000 egg cells, of which only a part will develop fully in her body during growing up and entering adulthood.
As scientists suggest, egg cells in the ovaries of girls several years old are about 10 times more sensitive to radiation, and thus there is a risk that long-term and repeated daily exposure may lead to significant genetic changes and may affect future generations.
It will probably take years before the irreversible effects of children holding electromagnetic-wave-emitting electronic devices on their knees, stomachs, or in the vicinity of their reproductive organs become apparent.
The consequences can be irreversible genetic disorders resulting from DNA damage.
It is possible that when our children reach adulthood, and our daughters with a little luck get pregnant, they will have to face many challenges as a consequence of our thoughtlessness. The consequence of not supervising the safe use of today's technology by our children will be the birth of our grandchildren, who may be born with genetically damaged reproductive organs. To many of us, this may sound rather frightening, foretelling in our imagination an impending apocalypse.
Among the defenders of "technological wonders" there will certainly be people who, in defense of the devices, or rather their manufacturers, will treat the subject with ridicule, because it is for their principals that mass-produced devices are a source of enormous income.
Children who are exposed to electromagnetic radiation on a daily basis will be at the mercy of fate, and with a little luck on the wisdom and prudence of their parents. Lucky are those whose parents, thanks to their knowledge and life wisdom, are aware of the scale of the coming problem and will try to effectively take care of their safety. It is not unlikely that their future, and in fact their ability to procreate, which ensures no less than the survival of our species, will depend on whether they forbid their children, or allow them to use a device that is potentially dangerous to the child's health. Other consequences of unlimited access to smartphones and tablets for the youngest may not be foreseeable at the moment, from an epidemic of infertility, through the continued transmission of damaged DNA to future generations, to waiting in uncertainty for the long-term health effects of this phenomenon, including brain tumors in children who have a much thinner skull than adults, to memory disorders and the development of depression.
Fortunately, public awareness is increasing, and a growing number of scientific articles appear in reputable medical journals that confirm the adverse effects of popular electronic devices on fertility and human health. To date, several studies have shown that chronic exposure to radiation emitted by electronic devices in close proximity may significantly increase the risk of endometriosis - a disease in which the endometrium appears outside the uterine cavity, induces inflammation, and reduces the number and DNA damage of ovarian follicles. In a study conducted on male rats, it was shown that exposure to radiation emitted by popular devices led to the degeneration of seminal tubules, reduced the number of Leydig cells responsible for the production of testosterone, and thus led to a decrease in testosterone levels in the blood. The study also observed increased levels of the lutenizing hormone - LH and cells responsible for apoptosis, or programmed cell death.
In studies on male and female infertility conducted on animals exposed to EMR, an increase in oxidative stress and lipid peroxidation was observed, as well as a decrease in protective antioxidant substances, including melatonin, vitamin E and glutathione peroxidase.
Based on the results of scientific research, many authors increasingly boldly point to the fact that the impact of devices such as tablets, smartphones, and routers can significantly impair human fertility which already leaves much to be desired.
The scientific evidence is mounting, but so are the opponents, who are trying at all costs to discredit the latest scientific reports and prove that these devices are harmless, and even some of them are trying to make people believe that devices emitting EMR can be beneficial to our health. This is somewhat reminiscent of the days when people were persuasively told that smoking tobacco was healthy and might even have medicinal properties. As some commentators claim - companies preying on people's gullibility are making an attack on human fertility, which may have dangerous and irreversible consequences.
However, it is enough to take a look at who financed the studies undermining the scientific facts or in which journals they were published. It will already become clear to keen observers that these articles are not objective, because their task is to rigidly protect the interests and market of electronic device manufacturers. The policy of companies and their far-reaching future strategy is based on plans to provide as many devices as possible to younger and younger consumers. And parents, wanting to have a moment of peace and quiet for themselves, returning home after a hard day's work, without a second thought, allow their children to place the smartphone or tablet on their stomachs and drift off into the land of colorful games and interactive play, probably not fully aware that they are giving their children exposure to harmful radiation, which may result in infertility or other diseases.
One former U.S. military physicist working on microwaves, among other things, was asked about the harm of EMR in the context of smoking. At the time, when asked "If I smoke cigarettes, which cigarette will cause cancer?" he gave a quick and rather brilliant answer: "I don't know, it might be the one smoked today."
Likewise with EMR probably not everyone will be susceptible to its adverse effects at the same time or after similar exposure times, but the effects that initiate the cascade of fertility disorders will probably occur at different stages of our children's lives.
It seems most prudent, therefore, not to participate in this dangerous lottery and to encourage children to play safe and proven games that will not deprive them of the future opportunity to have and enjoy their own preferably healthy children and will not expose them to the development of other diseases resulting from years of exposure to EMR.
That is why it is worth taking care that our children do not use cell phones too often and do not spend whole afternoons and evenings "cuddled up" to tablets.
What is interesting and worth mentioning - the organizers of one of the recently held oncological symposiums dealing with, among others, tumors of the central nervous system, pointed out that in the pathogenesis of brain tumors we should also consider the contribution of environmental factors, such as electromagnetic radiation. Unfortunately, these concerns have been partially confirmed in studies.
One of the largest and often cited papers published by Swedish researchers was a study whose results showed that the risk of brain glioma increased both with the total time in years and with the intensity of cell phone use, which was expressed in the total estimated number of hours of talking.
The analysis showed that initially the risk of cancer increased slowly during the first 20 years of phone use, to double after that, and to triple after 25 years!
The effect of "innocent" cell phone play will therefore show up with a long delay. Perhaps the most important conclusion presented by the authors of the study was that the group most susceptible to brain tumors are people who started using cell phones before the age of 18, i.e., children and adolescents, whose skull lining is much thinner than adults' bones.
So, if we do decide to provide our children with a cell phone or tablet, it is worth ensuring that they use these devices rationally, preferably using hands-free kits, and in moderation.
Otherwise it may turn out that along with the phone or tablet we unknowingly give them vouchers for a malignant brain tumor in a package with infertility and perhaps other diseases that will manifest themselves in a dozen or so years. Therefore, before making such a seemingly trivial decision, but in reality very important and one that can significantly affect the future of our descendants - you need to make a cost-benefit analysis and carefully consider all the pros and cons. And if we do buy a phone or a tablet for our child, let's teach them to use them sensibly and carefully in order to reduce to a minimum the potential risk to our children's health of using these devices.
Original article in Polish:
* auto-translation by the Editor of "Towards Better Health"
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