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Cellphones Handhelds

Brain Cancer Worries? Look Up Your Phone's SAR 165

Posted by timothy
from the before-it's-too-late dept.
CWmike writes "With recent news of a possible link between cell phone radiation and risk of brain cancer, you may have a new-found interest in knowing how much radiation your mobile handset is giving off — or, more importantly, how much your body might be absorbing. The FCC's legal limit for mobile phones is 1.6 Watts of radiofrequency energy per kilogram, using a measure called Specific Absorption Rate (SAR). The Environmental Working Group, which tracks SAR data for more than 1,300 cell phone and smartphone models, notes that several factors besides your handset affect your actual level of exposure. Look up your phone's SAR; or see a full chart of phones." And relax — have a coffee.
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Brain Cancer Worries? Look Up Your Phone's SAR

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  • Have a Coffee? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 04, 2011 @01:06AM (#36335718)

    ...But coffee is also in the 'may possibly cause cancer' that mobile phones have recently been added to

    "IARC conducts numerous reviews and in the past has given the same score to, for example, pickled vegetables and coffee" [http://news.cnet.com/8301-30686_3-20067593-266.html]

  • by syousef (465911) on Saturday June 04, 2011 @03:17AM (#36335976) Journal

    With so many bugs and battery life limited to less than a day on a lot of the latest phones, I think the brain cancer worry isn't the greatest. The risk of having an aneurysm while throwing your phone at the pavement far outweighs it!

    Speaking of aneurysms, I didn't need another fucking thing to have to factor in when buying a phone. Now in addition to battery life, reliability, features and bugs, sluggish behaviour, DRM and lockdown, I have to look at the SAR? FFFFUUUUCCCCKKKK!!!

  • Plastics (Score:5, Interesting)

    by the_raptor (652941) on Saturday June 04, 2011 @03:53AM (#36336050)

    IMO the most logical explanation for the correlation between cell phone use and cancer is that the cancers are from the KNOWN carcinogens that leech from plastics. Like the plastic cases that most phones used until the iPhone made metal/glass cases cool. Holding a piece of carcinogen leaking plastic to your head for hours on end for a decade or more seems a much more logical culprit then non-ionising radiation.

    P.S. The plastic theory would probably explain why bowel cancer is spiking amongst the young. Young people are eating/drinking from crappy plastic containers at higher rates then ever. If you like carrying water around all the time get a metal or glass flask.

  • by Mr Z (6791) on Saturday June 04, 2011 @04:55AM (#36336182) Homepage Journal

    Well, try an experiment: Set your phone next to some powered-on computer speakers. At least w/ GSM phones you'll find you hear the "boppita-boppita-bop" of a sync every dozen minutes or so (widely variable), but most of the time its silent. If you get an SMS or a phonecall, though, your speakers will scream like a banshee.

    Always-on and always-associated phones don't actually consume much bandwidth, and therefore don't represent much transmit power. At least, when you're well within range.

    Granted, my experience has been in a major city with mostly good reception. If you're further from a tower, it could be much worse than that.

  • by hey! (33014) on Saturday June 04, 2011 @05:48PM (#36338304) Homepage Journal

    While I agree with your conclusions, I don't think much of your arguments. In some cases they are red herrings (the amount of solar radiation received over the entire earth's surface is impressive, but irrelevant; the list of red herrings goes on). In other cases they are factually wrong (cell phones do not emit on a single frequency) or imply things that are factually wrong (e.g. that we get more radiation from the Sun in the 1.8GHz band than we would from regular cell phone use). The claim that physics rules out *any* possible interaction is overstated to the point it becomes unsupportable. It would be better to say that physics rules out the easily hypothesized mechanisms of causation. In absence of any proof a link exists, that's more than enough justification to doubt; but if a link were demonstrated to exist then we'd be forced to look for causes that were more plausible.

    That, by the way, is where the proof of any cell phone/brain cancer link actually fails: demonstrable existence.The case *against* the link hypothesis amounts to this:

    (A) the claim is based on a meta-study and doesn't control for confounding factors enough to be conclusive.
    (B) the reasoning and evidence supporting the claim is preliminary, and further scrutiny is certain to reveal methodological flaws (this is true even when the conclusion eventually pans out, but not all conclusions do).
    (C) were the link to be proven, it would point to significant holes in our knowledge in areas of physics or anatomy where we are pretty confident there are no such holes.

    Taken together, this is strong justification to doubt the hypothesis. I'd go further than that and say that were it not for the panic invoked by reporting, this probably wouldn't be worth pursuing. But do we have something that could be called disproof? I don't think so. The world is full of possibilities like this; things we can't categorically rule out, but which we have no compelling reason to believe.

    This is just another case where the null hypothesis happens to be more credible than the hypothesis.

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