Cell phones have revolutionized communication in the 21st century, and their use has seen a rapid increase in recent years.
As of January 2014, 90 percent of American adults owned a cell phone, 32 percent owned an e-reader and 42 percent owned a tablet computer, according to a Pew Internet & American Life Project Survey. The data itself highlights the popularity of mobile devices.
People are seen constantly checking their devices for messages, alerts or calls, even when the device isn’t ringing or vibrating.
This addiction to cell phones is unknowingly destroying your health. Long-term exposure to electromagnetic radiation from cell phones hampers your health in many ways.
In fact, various studies have highlighted the negative side of cell phones.
Here are the 10 reasons why cell phones are bad for your health.
1. Hinders Sleep
Using a mobile phone at night can hinder your sleep. The light emanating from mobile phones affects the circadian rhythm of your body and prompts production of hormones that promote alertness.
Moreover, if you keep your phone by your bed, there is a high chance of getting awakened in the middle of the night due to mobile rings and vibrations.
According to a 2011 study published in BMC Public, sleep disorders as well as stress and symptoms of depression were associated with high mobile phone usage. In this study, young adults (20 to 24 years old) were studied over the course of 1 year.
Another 2015 study published in Pediatrics found that sleeping near a small screen, sleeping with a TV in the room and more screen time were associated with shorter sleep durations.
Moreover, a 2014 study published in the Journal of Microscopy and Ultrastructure reports that children absorb more microwave radiation than adults. Hence, parents should be strict about how long their children are using mobile phones.
Avoid using mobile phones at night to enjoy sound sleep.
Remember that sleeplessness and sleep disorders are a direct cause of metabolic syndrome, a cluster of diseases such as obesity, diabetes, hypertension, high levels of bad cholesterol, high triglyceride levels and excessive belly fat.
2. Spreads Infections
If you use your phone in the restroom, hospital, market or other public places, there is a high chance that your device is highly contaminated.
In a 2011 study conducted at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and Queen Mary, University of London, researchers measured about 400 cell phones for levels of bacteria. Shockingly, 92 percent of the phones had bacteria on them.
A 2009 study published in the Journal of Hospital Infection found mobile communication devices as potential reservoirs of nosocomial pathogens. Nosocomial pathogens are pathogens acquired in hospitals and other healthcare facilities.
Even a 2013 study published in the Journal of Perinatology reports that bacterial contamination of cell phones may serve as vectors for nosocomial infection in the neonatal intensive care unit.
The transmission of bacteria from cell phones to hands may not be eliminated using antimicrobial gels.
Another study published in the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery in 2015 found orthopedic surgeons’ cell phones to be a potential source of nosocomial infection in the operating room and recommended cell phone cleaning more frequently than once a week.
So, disinfecting your cell phone is always a good idea to prevent the spread of germs to yourself or others.
3. Raises Heart Problems
Radiation from cell phones is not good for your heart health. The electromagnetic energy emitted by cell phones causes oxidation and weakens cell membranes.
Radiation emitted by cordless phones, including mobiles, causes heart irregularities, according to a 2010 study published in the European Journal of Oncology.
A 2012 study published in the Annals of Medical & Health Sciences Research reports that electromagnetic energy radiated from mobile phones is harmful for people with ischemic heart disease as it alters electrocardiographic activity.
A recent 2013 study by the American Society for Hypertension shows that cell phone use causes high blood pressure.
Looking at the negative impacts on your heart health, avoid keeping your cell phone in the front pocket of your shirt. People with a pacemaker should strictly follow this rule.
4. Affects Reproductive Health
Cell phone radiation also has a negative effect on reproductive health, especially in men. The harmful radiation emitted by cell phones can lead to slower or damaged sperm and decreased sperm concentration.
A 2007 study published in Reproductive Biomedicine Online suggested that excessive cell phone use plays a role in male infertility.
Another 2007 study published in the Annals of Agricultural and Environmental Medicine analyzed the effect of GSM equipment on the semen.
Researchers concluded that an increase in the percentage of sperm cells of abnormal morphology is associated with the duration of exposure to the harmful waves emitted by the phone.
Later, a 2008 study published in Fertility and Sterility reported that high cell phone use was directly and significantly associated with a low sperm count and overall infertility in men.
Cell phones decrease the semen quality by decreasing the sperm count, motility, viability and normal morphology.
5. Increases Stress
If you have the habit of checking your mobile phone every few minutes, it can be the reason behind your increasing stress level. Plus, the constant ringing, vibrating alerts and reminders can lead to more stress.
A 2011 study published in BMC Public Health reports that extensive use of mobile phones has a direct connection to stress levels. It can also cause sleep disturbances and symptoms of depression.
Stress itself is not good for your health in many ways. Apart from stress, excessive cell phone use can be a risk factor for mental health issues in young adults.
A study published in Computers in Human Behavior in 2016 found that use of technologies for escapism is related to higher depression and anxiety scores. However, those who use technologies to avoid being bored do not suffer from negative mental health.
6. Impairs Hearing
The harmful radiation emitted by cell phones can damage the delicate tissues of the inner ears. It can lead to high-frequency hearing loss.
A 2006 study published in Electromagnetic Biology and Medicine shows that a higher degree of hearing loss is associated with long-term exposure to electromagnetic fields generated by cell phones.
A more recent 2014 study published in the Indian Journal of Otolaryngology and Head & Neck Surgery shows that the use of mobile phones predisposes a person to hearing loss in the dominant ear (the ear that is most often used with the mobile phone).
If while using a cell phone you notice symptoms like ear warmth, ear fullness and ringing in the ears (tinnitus), you need to consider these sensations as early warning signs of an auditory abnormality.
7. Causes Poor Vision
The eyes are particularly vulnerable to heating effects from radio waves emitted from mobile phones.
Plus, over exposure to the blue-violet light emitted from your mobile screen has the potential to put you at greater risk of macular degeneration, a leading cause of blindness.
As the mobile screens are smaller than computer screens, you are more likely to squint and strain your eyes while reading messages.
It is human tendency to bring the device closer to your eyes and not blink enough while texting or reading texts. These habits strain your eyes.
In a 2010 study carried out at Charotar University of Science and Technology, scientists studied the impact of electromagnetic waves on human eyes and concluded that excessive use of mobile devices can lead to early cataracts. It can also affect the retinas, corneas and other ocular systems of the eyes.
To protect your vision, you must get your eyes tested regularly and take regular breaks from your handheld device.
8. Leads to Spinal Misalignment and Pain
It’s common for users to constantly tilt downward to look at their phones. This is really bad your spine as well as your posture.
If you have the habit of holding your mobile phone between your neck and shoulders as you multitask, it can put a strain on your neck and back.
This can lead to neck and back pain, ranging from a chronic, nagging pain to sharp and even severe upper back muscle spasms.
As cell phones employ constant use of your hands, especially your thumbs when typing text messages and emails, it can cause tendonitis or inflammation. This can be a reason behind aching, cramping and throbbing pain in the area.
If the problem is not taken care of, it can lead to osteoarthritis of the thumb over time.
9. Increases Accident Risk
Many objects and activities can pose visual, manual and mental distractions while driving a vehicle and the use of a cell phone is one of them.
A 2008 report by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety states that any cell phone use roughly quadruples crash risk. Cell phones can easily divert drivers’ attention, thus increasing the risk of a crash.
Another 2013 study published in the International Journal of Epidemiology found that crash culpability is significantly associated with cell phone use by drivers, increasing the odds of a culpable crash by 70 percent when compared with drivers who did not use a cell phone.
Drivers should not use a cell phone (handheld or hands-free) while behind the wheel.
10. Increases Brain Cancer Risk
As reported by the World Health Organization (WHO), mobile phones emit radiofrequency energy (radio waves). This form of non-ionizing radiation works as a possible carcinogenic.
The radiation generated by cell phones triggers heating of the brain tissue, which your brain absorbs. This increases the risk of brain cancer.
A 2013 study published in the International Journal of Oncology establishes the association between malignant brain tumors diagnosed between 2007 and 2009 and mobile and cordless phone use.
A more recent 2015 study published in Pathophysiology confirms that use of mobile or cordless phones increases the risk of brain cancer.
However, the risk is highest among people who have been using mobile phones for more than 20 to 25 years.
Tips to Protect Yourself from Harmful Radiation of Cell Phones
- Instead of holding your phone up to your ear, use the speaker when talking to someone.
- Keep cell phone conversations and leisurely talks to a minimum. For longer conversations, use a landline.
- Never ditch the landline. It is much safer than your mobile phone.
- If possible, talk less over cells phones and text messages. However, when texting is necessary, sit straight and keep the device at a distance.
- When you are in a remote area or you are traveling, limit your cell phone use.
- Avoid using your phone in an elevator.
- Keep your phone as far away as you can when you go to bed at night.
- Put your cell phone in airplane mode whenever you can.
- Do not use your cell phone while it is charging.
- If possible, look for radiation blocking or EMF protective clothing options that are readily available online.