HOLD THE PHONE — OR NOT

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by Allyssia Alleyne

There is some good news for those who are glued to their cell phone.

“I’m on my phone pretty much every minute of the day,” said Mo Riazi, a third-year human resources student. “When I’m not sleeping, I’m always on my phone.”

Should students be wary of the health effects attached to frequent phone use? Maybe not.

Researchers at the University of South Florida have found prolonged exposure to the radio waves transmitted by mobile phones could actually have positive effects. Their study, published earlier this year, found radio waves may prevent, and possibly reverse, the effects of Alzheimer’s disease. They also discovered the waves had the potential to boost memory performance in mice, something they hope will also apply to humans since the species have similar nerve cell behaviour.

Anthony Muc, assistant professor at Dalla Lana School of Public Health, thinks talking on the phone isn’t so bad. “Cell phones are really no different from any of these other applications of technology,” said Muc. “Cell phones use the same type of energy as microwave ovens.”

But not everyone finds this news reassuring. Tianna Henry, a first-year politics and governance student, still isn’t convinced cell phones are safe.

“It just can’t be good — all those radio waves going right next to your head,” Henry said. Though she has a cell phone, she makes a conscious effort to limit how much she uses it.

Other researchers seem to share Henry’s distrust towards cell phones.

Dr. Michael Cusimano, a brain surgeon at St. Michael’s hospital, told CityTV about his concerns with regard to cell phone usage. “We can’t just dismiss it and say there’s no risk at all.”

Reducing cell phone use is easier said than done for many students. “Giving up the phone altogether? That might be hard,” Riazi said.

The World Health Organization’s 10-year study on cell-phone usage has not published any concrete findings that support the theory that prolonged cell phone use can lead to cancer.

Though there is no hard evidence indicating the link between cell phones and cancer, some will still air on the side of caution.

“I’m fine with just staying off my phone,” Henry said. “I just want to do what’s best for my body.” Muc thinks those precautions aren’t necessary.

“Should we give up cell phones? I would say not, but you will find people that say yes, we should.

With a lot of environmental issues, there are polarized positions and extremes.”

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