Are phones as bad for us as we think?
GO AHEAD and use your mobile phone, but use it carefully, taking certain commonsense precautions. And be sure your kids have safe mobile phone habits, too.
That's the advice of one of the authors of two new preliminary US government studies by the National Toxicology Program (NTP).
According to the New York Post, the studies reviewed the long-term effects of exposure to mobile phone radiation, which is a non-ionising form of radiation also found in microwave ovens.
"If there is a risk, it is small." said Dr John Bucher, the senior scientist with the NTP.
The studies, among many reviewing potential mobile phone dangers, are important because the greatest human exposure to radio frequency radiation (RFR) comes from mobile phones.
"There is currently no consistent evidence that non-ionising radiation increases cancer risk," according to "Cellphones and Cancer Risk," a paper recently published by the National Cancer Institute that reviewed cellphone research.
The two NTP studies monitored the effects of RFR on rats and mice, some of which were exposed to RFR while others were not.
The studies found the health of both groups was similar.
Some of the animals exposed to high dosages lived longer than those that weren't, Mr Bucher said.
However, Mr Bucher added that there were also some findings "that were concerning to us - some evidence of carcinogen activity."
Mr Bucher concluded there is some potential of cellphone radiation "under high exposure conditions."
But Mr Bucher, who added that he uses a smart phone, noted that "it is so easy to reduce your exposure. It is something that doesn't concern me because I use it intelligently and I really don't worry about it."
For example, he suggested, don't jam the phone against your ear. Keeping it away "dramatically reduces your radiation exposure. Cellphone radiation diminishes dramatically with distance."
Sleeping at night with your phone placed a distance away from you has also been recommended.
Some people are taking his advice.
The National Cancer Institute said "the use of hands-free technology, such as wired and wireless headsets, is increasing and may decrease radio frequency exposure to the head and the brain."
Mobile phone safety studies are ongoing because phones have become ubiquitous. There were about 417 million mobile phone plans or contracts in the United States in 2016, according to the most recent figures available from Statista.
Mr Bucher emphasised that these new studies are not definitive. Years of research remain before all questions can be answered about the potential dangers of these addictive gadgets that have become the third ear of millions.
For now, however, the link between cancer and mobile phones is unproved, most researchers say.
America's Food and Drug Administration, in reviewing the NTP reports, said that it believes "the current safety limits for cellphones are acceptable for protecting the public health."
The draft reports by NTP, which is part of the National Institutes of Health, will be reviewed by experts, including regulators.
This article first appeared in the New York Post and is republished with permission.