If you are reading this article, it is a fair bet that you are a non-smoker.

Why? Because most New Zealand adults are now non-smokers thanks to concerted public education programmes about the risks of smoking, including the much greater risk of lung cancer in people who smoke cigarettes.

(As anyone knows who has had a friend or family member develop lung cancer, it’s a cruel disease which is often fatal.)

There’s also mounting evidence in humans and animals that cellular (and cordless) phone use can increase the risk of an often-fatal brain tumour (glioma).

In fact, one prominent scientist now states that new animal exposure data means that the type of radiation produced by cellular phones should now be classified as a proven (Class 1) carcinogen.

However, most people don’t know this.

The mobile phone industry has about as much interest in telling people about the risks of brain (and other cancers) associated with cellular phone use as the tobacco companies had in being frank about the health risks of smoking.

(The nasty looking pictures of smoking-related pathology on modern packets of cigarettes aren’t there because tobacco companies suddenly developed a conscience; they are a NZ government requirement.)

In fact, the mobile phone industry (let’s call it “Big Wireless”) has pretty much taken a leaf out of the Big Tobacco’s playbook when it comes to communication with consumers about the health risks of cellular phones and, as this article demonstrates, has basically tried to keep the public in a state of confusion about the health risks of cellular phone use … in order to keep people using their cellphones.

It is exactly the same tactic that Big Tobacco used…to keep people confused about the health risks of smoking for years – until it was too late for some people who had developed lung cancer or cardiovascular disease or some other nasty, painful or fatal affliction associated with chronic tobacco use.

It took decades of many, many people dying unnecessarily early and painfully from smoking related diseases before governments took action on tobacco in terms of public education campaigns and  mandatory health warnings on tobacco packaging.

The situation with cellular (and cordless phones) and other wireless devices in terms of the government response is analogous.

It appears that the NZ government is currently unwilling to act on the evidence of harm from cellular phone use.  Worse, the NZ Ministry of Health allows people who work for (or provide contract services to) the telecommunications sector to be part of a committee that provides advice to the government on non ionising radiation and health.

To add insult to injury, despite the mounting evidence of the carcinogenicity of cellular phones, the  standards in NZ for devices that produce radiofrequency radiation (RFR) in the microwave range (NZS 2772.1:1999 and the “National Environmental Standard for Telecommunications Facilities”) are designed only to protect against electric shocks and thermal injury (burns).  Thus industry claims that a given device meets applicable NZ standards doesn’t mean that the device is safe to use in the sense that any normal person would expect.  The standard certainly is NOT designed to protect against the development of cancer.

To cap it all off, now the NZ government has passed legislation to phase out much of the safe, copper landline system that allows people to have a safe corded phone in their home. (It is possible to have a corded landline phone with the fibre system but a lot of people do not realise this.)

A phone with a cord is the type of phone that is NOT associated with increased risk of brain tumours (or cancers at other sites of the body that have significant exposure.)

At this link, for example, you can read about US attorney Jimmy Gonzalez who developed a tumour in his brain (on the same side where he held the phone against his head) as well as a tumour in his torso close to where he carried his cell phone in his jacket pocket and a tumour in the hand with which he habitually held his cell phone.  Mr. Gonzalez passed away in 2014 – he was only 42 years old.

What’s the take home message here?

If you don’t want to increase you risk of a brain tumour (or other cellular phone related cancer) use a corded phone whenever possible. (If you must talk on a cell phone, put the cellphone on a surface like a table and use an air tube headset to minimize high intensity exposure to your brain and body.)

If you have children, please ensure, if at all possible, that you have a safe corded landline for them to use at home (because exposure to wireless phones prior to the age of 20 years has been associated with more than four times the usual risk of brain cancer.)

NB:  If the copper has already been removed from your home, this link will give your your options for a safe hardwired phone with a fibre connection.

Carefully consider whether or not your teenager needs a cellular phone and have clear rules in place about how and when the phone may be used.  (Ensure that teenage girls know NOT to carry their cellphone in their bra or breast pocket and that boys know not to keep a cell phone in their jacket or shirt pocket (remember the unfortunate Mr. Jimmy Gonzalez) or in their trouser pocket where it may cause DNA damage to their sperm.

Thank you to Benny Bennetts for the use of the cartoon!

Please note that the new smart phones and social media platforms are designed to be addictive and children and teenagers are particularly vulnerable to developing digital addiction if they are allowed unfettered access to these devices in their formative years.

Government health authorities probably won’t give you this advice, at least not yet.

In a few decades by which time NZ’s already struggling public health system could have been completely overwhelmed by people suffering from cancers caused by cellular phone use (and/or by living close to mobile phone infrastructure) cancers which could easily have been prevented with public educations and better safety standards, perhaps the government may take some action and advise people to used safe corded phones.

Until then, it’s up to you.

Please take the risk of cancer from cellular phone use seriously.

Please share this post with your friends and family.

Thank you.

This article was first published on the website Save Our Landlines NZ.  You may read the latest update for NZ on this issue at this link: http://www.saveourlandlines.nz/news/2019-update/

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