January 30, 2012 Leave a comment
I am back! It has been a while but due to the exams I did not have the luxury to leave any comments or posts.
To make a small summary about the things you people pointed out regarding my earlier post:
-Is brain caused by cell phone usage or by other factors?
-Is the way that the cell phone is used important?
-Could the experiment be adjusted to get better results?
Below I’ll give an answer to these question .
Is brain caused by cell phone usage or by other factors?
This first question pretty much summarizes the whole topic of this blog. If a clear answer to that question existed the whole point of doing research regarding this topic would not be needed. But since researchers are still conducting studies regarding this it seems that there is no conclusive answer yet.
It seems that the general evidence points us into the direction of the non-relation between cell phone usage and brain cancer since only a group in Sweden was able to show a link between cell phone usage and brain cancer.
It should be noted that I did not look into the clients ordering these studies. If they would be somehow be linked by cell phone manufacturers then there would be a chance that the data would be “optimized”.
Is the way that the cell phone is used important?
I did not find any information regarding the details of the cell phone usage regarding brain cancer. But I think a fairly logic answer is available.
When a cell phone is in standby it stays in touch with the cellular network which is provided by a mobile phone operator. Therefore its location is known at any time as long as the cell phone is turned on. The signal emitted during standby is weak and therefore does not ask that much of the battery. In most cases during standby the cell phone will not be next to someone’s head. Since the intensity of the radiation drops significantly with increasing distance I do not think that this type of cell phone ‘usage’ would be the main source, even when taken into account that the standby time is much greater than other types of cell phone usage.
When sending a text message, a short, strong signal is generated to transfer the data of the text message. The frequency of this happening only depends on the amount of text messages a user would send in a day. But again, during the sending of the text messages the cell phone would not be directly next to the head and therefore the intensity of the radiation drops significantly.
During calling by cell phone a strong signal is generated over a longer period of time depending on the duration of the call itself. The prove for the stronger signal can easily be found in the drainage of the battery during calling. Cell phone manufacturers also mention by pointing out the difference between standby time and talking time.
During a call the cell phone, unless someone would be using a headset, is in direct contact with the head. So if there would be a main cause for brain cancer by cell phone usage it would be due to calling. A strong signal in combination with close contact to the head would be have the biggest impact if there is an impact at all.
Could the experiment be adjusted to get better results?
Measuring the broadcasting power of a cell phone would give a good idea about the signal strength of the cell phone but nothing more. The same kind of data would be generated by comparing different cell phones regarding their signal strength and power consumption over a certain period of time.
A better setup would be to bring living tissue in contact with radiation similar to the radiation emitted by cell phones for a prolonged period of time. But even so the conditions of the experiment are difficult to determine. For example:
What is the average cell phone usage?
What is the average emission of a cell phone?
What is the effect of the prolonged exposure to radiation due to standby time?
What is the effect of keeping a cell phone in a purse or in the pocket?
As you can see many different factors are affecting the potential outcome and the significance of the experiment. It is therefore not as easy to conduct an experiment that would generate data making a clear conclusion possible.
Also the questionnaire used to collect the data has a great impact on the answers. Depending on the way the question is formulated someone would give different answers resulting in wrong conclusions.
I do agree that the researchers should look into the data collecting method. If people are questioned about their cell phone usage over the last decade it is more than likely that the answers will be twisted since most people are not able to remember every detail of every day from the last decade. Maybe keeping a ‘cell phone diary’ would improve the reliability of the collected data although it seems quite unlikely everyone in the study group will fill in this diary correctly for as long as a decade.
As you can see there are many uncertainties regarding this topic. Several people are convinced about the existence of a relationship between brain cancer and cell phone usage but at least as many people are convinced of the opposite. The general public knows about this controversy and since there is no conclusive answer everyone has to decide for itself. Since the popularity of the cell phone keeps rising and new types, like the smart phone, are developed, I do not think that people would stop using the cell phone even if there would be a small increase of the risk regarding brain cancer.
The future will tell who is right and who is wrong.