human, being


See that 7-year-old with the cell phone?

Yep, that’s my daughter.

What the hell does a 7-year-old need a cell phone for? I don’t know. Ask her father.

Tonight, my ex is going to give Lauren his old, active cell phone because his new company just gave him a work phone, and he doesn’t want to spend the $200 to cancel his current plan. When he called me today to give me her new phone number, I choked.

I wanted to tell him, hell no. She doesn’t need a cell phone. She shouldn’t have a cell phone! She’s only 7 (and a half) for god’s sake. Who is she going to call, or text even? She’s just learning how to spell for god’s sake. Do we want 2 confuse her bc txtng is spelling shorthand? NROTFLMAO.

He caught me by surprise, that’s sure. He’s always been good at that–pulling something via ambush. Instead of talking to me about it first, he just made up his mind and declared it so. One of many reasons why I am no longer married to him.

There’s a Sept. 21, 2008, headline from The Independent, a British newspaper, that I am going to send him: “Mobile phone use ‘raises children’s risk of brain cancer fivefold.”

The Swedish research was reported this month at the first international conference on mobile phones and health.

It sprung from a further analysis of data from one of the biggest studies carried out into the risk that the radiation causes cancer, headed by Professor Lennart Hardell of the University Hospital in Orebro, Sweden. Professor Hardell told the conference – held at the Royal Society by the Radiation Research Trust – that “people who started mobile phone use before the age of 20″ had more than five-fold increase in glioma”, a cancer of the glial cells that support the central nervous system. The extra risk to young people of contracting the disease from using the cordless phone found in many homes was almost as great, at more than four times higher.

Those who started using mobiles young, he added, were also five times more likely to get acoustic neuromas, benign but often disabling tumours of the auditory nerve, which usually cause deafness.

By contrast, people who were in their twenties before using handsets were only 50 per cent more likely to contract gliomas and just twice as likely to get acoustic neuromas.

Professor Hardell told the IoS: “This is a warning sign. It is very worrying. We should be taking precautions.” He believes that children under 12 should not use mobiles except in emergencies and that teenagers should use hands-free devices or headsets and concentrate on texting. At 20 the danger diminishes because then the brain is fully developed. Indeed, he admits, the hazard to children and teenagers may be greater even than his results suggest, because the results of his study do not show the effects of their using the phones for many years. Most cancers take decades to develop, longer than mobile phones have been on the market.

The research has shown that adults who have used the handsets for more than 10 years are much more likely to get gliomas and acoustic neuromas, but he said that there was not enough data to show how such relatively long-term use would increase the risk for those who had started young.

And in July 2008, Pittsburgh Cancer Institute Director Ronald B. Herberman rocked the boat of the NCI world by putting out a statement about his belief that cell phones do contribute to brain cancer in adults and children.

Recently I have become aware of the growing body of literature linking long-term cell phone use to possible adverse health effects including cancer. Although the evidence is still controversial, I am convinced that there are sufficient data to warrant issuing an advisory to share some precautionary advice on cell phone use.

An international expert panel of pathologists, oncologists and public health specialists recently declared that electromagnetic fields emitted by cell phones should be considered a potential human health risk (see The Case for Precaution in Cell Phone Use, attached). To date, a number of countries including France, Germany and India have issued recommendations that exposure to electromagnetic fields should be limited. In addition, Toronto’s Department of Public Health is advising teenagers and young children to limit their use of cell phones, to avoid potential health risks.

More definitive data that cover the health effects from prolonged cell phone use have been compiled by the World Health Organization, International Agency for Research on Cancer. However, publication has been delayed for two years. In anticipation of release of the WHO report, the attached prudent and simple precautions, intended to promote precautionary efforts to reduce exposures to cell phone electromagnetic radiation, have been reviewed by UPCI experts in neuro-oncology, epidemiology, neurosurgery and the Center for Environmental Oncology.

For more in-depth information on this subject, please see the complete article (pdf file, 100kb)

Working at a cancer center perhaps leaves me a bit paranoid about things, but as I’ve known a dozen people who have lost kids to brain tumors—and brain tumors are the top cancer killer of kids, because there are no good standardized treatments—I think a little paranoia is OK.

Besides, it’s just ridiculous for kids to have cell phones.

So rather than do my usual groveling with the ex (we have power struggles, and I act like a wimp around him), I just emailed him to say that I don’t think it’s appropriate for her to carry it, or to use it except for calling us or for emergencies. I braced myself for a fight. But for once, he called me and said he agrees with me. Wow.

I’m still not thrilled with the situation. Steve doesn’t want Ryan to get bent that his younger step-sister has a cell and he doesn’t (because he ain’t getting one). But this is probably the best compromise we can come up with.

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