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Cel Phone--Friend or Foe?

Sometimes there are inexplicable illnesses that hurtle us down a tunnel of discovery. My work involves interactive observation of the tiniest clues that fit into a larger framework called a Traditional Chinese Medicine diagnosis. Sometimes, though, there are pieces of the puzzle that go missing. And I believe that this is because the cause of these diseases didn’t exist 3,000 to 5,000 years ago.

What am I talking about? I’m speaking of your constant companion, your line to the outside world, your alarm clock, calculator, where you may check emails, flit about facebook, look at your calendar, make to do lists, yelp a local restaurant, google a question, etc. If you don’t use your cel phone occasionally for one or all of these purposes, I applaud you—you’re what I fondly call a “hold out.”

I recently read an interview with Devra Lee Davis, Ph.D. of the Environmental Health Trust (Alternative and Complementary Therapies, Vol. 17, No.4) that confirmed my suspicions about the effects cel phones on my own body. Twice now in the past five years, I have had severe episodes of headaches like searing anvils of heat on the right side of my skull every time I flipped on my cel phone to talk. Being a refugee of technology is a strange feeling in this day and age. I was fortunate to have the care of Chinese herbalists who helped me recover my health.

Since many people suffer from inexplicable symptoms, regardless of years of various Western and Traditional medical approaches, I was drawn to write this article. It is not common knowledge that cel phones, wi-fi, electricity wires, alarm clocks, televisions and other modern devices emit what’s called EMF or electro-magnetic frequencies. The World Health Organization has classified radiation from devices like cel phones and wi-fi as a “possible human carcinogen.”

Cel phone’s in particular emit energy called microwaves. After only 50 minutes of talking on a cel phone, blood glucose in the brain was elevated in those areas closest to the cel phone. This is significant because Alzheimer’s sufferers are described as having a head full of sugar. Dementia is on the rise in America, for some reason, especially amongst the elderly.

Dr. Devra goes on to say that the reason there are no safety regulations on these devices is because all the studies have usually only been 5 years long, 10 at most. Yet it took 40 years for brain cancer to show up after the bombs were dropped in World War II. Dr. Devra’s organization is promoting the “sensible policy of precaution” which have been adopted in many countries including Israel, Finland and France.

Her colleague Om P. Gandhi (chair of Department of Electrical Computer Engineering at the Univerisity of Utah) has shown that “every millimeter that one holds a phone away from the body reduces the absorption of microwaves into the brain by 15%.” Since most cel phones have a built in antennae on the back, this is especially important otherwise half of the microwave enters your body as it leaves the phone searching for a tower.

Dr. Devra’s suggests that the safest way to talk on a cel phone is to place it on a table in front of you with the speakerphone on. When the signal is low on a phone, Dr. Devra suggested turning off your phone. The phone is working extra hard and emitting a much larger amount of microwaves than usual, exposing the user to dangerous levels of radiation.

It is recommended not carrying your cel phone in your breast pocket or pants pocket, since it also has been linked with breast cancer and diminished sperm count and motility. Not sleeping with your cel phone or using it as alarm by your head is advisable. Giving a baby a cel phone with a white noise app to sleep with is a bad idea. Turning off your wireless routers at night is recommended.

I dug a little deeper and found a lot of startling information on the blog of the website called For example, the Italian Supreme court recently ruled that there is a causal link between cel phone use and brain tumors. The case involved a man who had to talk 5-6 hours per day on his cel phone for work. When he got a brain tumor, his company did not want to pay for the charges. He claimed he was injured on the job and won.

Another interesting fact to note is that the head of Belgium’s largest cel phone company bans all cel phones and wifi in his office. He often gives talks to school children about the dangerous waves that are emitted from cel phones and advocates using a head-set and turning them off at night. We are a little behind in America, yet on March 27, 2013 the Federal Communications Committee decided to review health effects of radiation. I hope that a true scientific study is conducted and that a generation of youngsters surrounded by technology will be protected.

Hopi Wilder, L.Ac. practices acupuncture and herbal medicine at Wilder Health in Oroville. Visit her at or call (530) 282-5882 if you have any questions.

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