There have been concerns about the potential side effects of cellphone use practically since the moment mobile phones were invented. While these worries have been viewed as unfounded and just a tad hyperbolic by some, users have still been cautioned to plug in headphones when chatting for extended periods on our cellular devices to keep the devices as far away from our precious brains as possible. Just in case.
But let’s be real—how many of us actually use headphones to talk on our phones? A call comes in, and we answer it. There’s no time to fumble with all those knotted wires, right? Well, after reading about this study, headphones may not seem like such an inconvenience after all.
CELLPHONE RADIATION AND MEMORY
According to a recent study out of Switzerland, cellphone radiation may adversely affect adolescent memory.
Collecting data from nearly 700 Swiss adolescents, the study showed that the radiofrequency electromagnetic radiation (RF-EMF) emitted from cellular devices significantly impeded memory development in certain parts of the brain—over the course of only one year. Thankfully, RF-EMF radiation is non-ionizing, which means it is unlikely to be cancer-causing or damage DNA, but the potential for cumulative adverse effects is worrisome.
According to a press release, “Cumulative RF-EMF brain exposure from mobile phone use over one year may have a negative effect on the development of figural memory performance in adolescents.”
Located in the right hemisphere of the brain, figural memory suffered most in adolescents who generally spoke with the phone on the right side of their head. This strengthens the results of an earlier 2015 study that reached similar conclusions.
The RF-EMF exposure from non-head use, like texting or playing games, resulted in marginal brain exposure and did not have a pronounced effect on memory. It seems that holding the phone against the head and exposing the brain to its max radiation, day after day, is the major risk factor. Texting is fairly innocuous in this case.
HOW TO MINIMIZE YOUR BRAIN’S EXPOSURE TO CELLPHONE RADIATION
Does this mean we have to use headphones again to chat on the phone? Perhaps. But, ugh, those tiny tangled wires are the worst!
Maybe wireless Bluetooth headphones are the answer? Not so fast. According to Consumer Reports, wireless headphones and other recent technology use the same type of radiofrequency technology as cellphones. While the dose of radiation is significantly lower in Bluetooth and WiFi devices, it is unclear what sort of cumulative damage could build up over time with consistent use.
There is no definitive proof that cellphone radiation seriously harms human health, but there isn’t definitive proof that it doesn’t, either. Exert caution when talking on your phone for longer periods of time—use a speaker or some old-school wired headphones.