Keeping your cell phone close to your bed while you sleep might cause cancer or lower your sperm count, according to new guidance issued by the California Department of Health.
The new recommendation from California is to keep your cell phone several feet away from you whenever possible and to especially keep it beyond arm’s reach at night when you sleep. The department says this is to reduce radiation exposure from cellular signals.
Cell phones emit low-frequency radio waves, a type of electromagnetic radiation that has never conclusively been linked to health problems. But the California Department of Health says there are now enough studies linking cell phone signals to health risks that we should all take precautions. That means not sleeping with your phone under your pillow or keeping it in your pocket during your waking hours.
The guidance says there have been a few studies linking cell phone radiation to cancer, lowered sperm count in men, and even brain tumors.
There’s no wider agreement in the medical or scientific community as to whether or not cell phones are dangerous to human health. However, several cities in California had already issued warnings to the public against holding cell phones close to their bodies for prolonged periods of time.
They especially warn against holding a cellphone against your skin while it is downloading larger files or streaming video. These cause the cellular antenna to work overtime and emit even more radiation.
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Dr. Devra Davis of Environmental Health Trust says it’s high time people pay more attention to our relationship with cell phones. “Keeping a phone directly on the body has never been a good idea.”
While radiation from cell phones is still under investigation, a growing body of research has already linked cell phone usage to poor mental health, attention span, and sleep in adolescents.
France recently banned all cell phones from primary and middle schools as a result of the new research, but Dr. Davis says adults should be worried too. "The French have tested the phones the way they are used and RF exposure exceeds the French standards by four more times, and apply that to the US standards, and it's even much more than that - about seven times [the recommended levels]," said Dr. Davis.