Is technology frying our brains?

Couple of years back, my mother would experience headaches and giddiness whenever she was at her work desk. Her colleague who sat next to her would also suffer similar symptoms when she was in the office.

Couple of years back, my mother would experience headaches and giddiness whenever she was at her work desk. Her colleague who sat next to her would also suffer similar symptoms when she was in the office.

After a series of checks and tests, her office identified a wireless cellular signal booster--which was mounted on the wall directly above my mother's desk--as the key culprit. The device was immediately deactivated and my mother's headaches promptly disappeared.

Whether there was indeed a direct correlation between the wireless device and my mother's passing ailments is still as yet to be proven scientifically. But, the question remains whether sufficient time has passed for the effects of technology on the human body to manifest and be accurately documented.

Researchers believe that every human body goes through minor DNA mutations and hence, in some ways, carries dormant cancer cells. The fortunate ones among us go through life without any of these cells becoming "active" but for most of us, as statistics show, we're likely to end up with some form of cancer-related ailment at a later stage in our life.

It usually takes years, typically a decade or more, for cancerous cells to manifest. What that means is, to accurately observe the effects of technology such as mobile phones, on the human body, we'll have to run health studies that span at least 10 years.

What that also means is, past reports disputing any links between mobile phones and cancer, could now be wrong. And those Northern Ireland residents in 2002 might have valid reasons to bring down a mobile phone mast, which they said had caused several cancer cases in their area.

This week, the director of a prominent U.S. cancer research institute sent out an unusually strong warning to 3,000 staff and faculty members to limit their cell phone use due to potential cancer risks. The memo from Dr. Ronald B. Herberman was deemed unprecedented as it contradicted past studies, including statements from the U.S. government, which dismissed any association between mobile phones and cancer.

The hubbub raises one key question in my mind: has the mobile phone become like smoking?

By the time the health risks related to tobacco smoking were established, it was too late for those already addicted to the nicotine to turn back. Could the same ring true for mobile phone addicts?

If indeed researchers are able to come up with concrete evidence that mobile phones will lead to brain tumors and cancer, will you be able to give it up?

And will governments have to legislate that mobile users must leave public areas, and make calls in specially assigned "calling zones" so that others in the area won't absorb any second-hand electromagnetic radiation emitting from their phones?

Try pondering over that when you make your next mobile phone call, handsfree, of course.

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