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The Robesonian, Lumberton, N.C., That is All column
[March 20, 2011]

The Robesonian, Lumberton, N.C., That is All column


Mar 20, 2011 (The Robesonian - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- "The telephone is ringin', you got me on the run ..." -- Alice Cooper When will we listen? The chronic use of cell phones is going to kill us.



I heard that 10 years ago, 12 months ago and again just the other day.

And yet we yack and yack and yack. I just used mine 15 minutes ago to check my messages.


In last week's USA Weekend, this headline caught my attention: "Can cell phones cause brain cancer?" It was an article penned by four doctors -- a pediatrician, an OB-GYN, a ER physician and a plastic surgeon -- who comprise the medical team known as "The Doctors," an Emmy-winning daytime TV show.

So, docs, can cell phones cause brain cancer? "The short answer: We don't know yet. Many experts agree that to date, there is no conclusive evidence that links cell-phone use to brain cancer, but that more research is needed," the article said.

This band of medical experts went on to talk about a recent 10-year study of more than 12,000 people from 13 countries suggesting cell phone use increases the risk for glioma, a type of brain tumor. Then they backed off with this, "Investigators concluded more research was necessary on the effects of long-term mobile-phone use." The doctors explained that it often takes years or even decades between exposure to a carcinogen and the onset of a tumor, "so it's possible not enough time has passed to detect an increase in cancer rates that can be directly linked to cell-phone use." This much is certain: Cell phones emit radio frequency (RF) energy, a low-level form of radiation. We've known this forever -- since mobile phones were the size of our shoes.

And yet we yack and yack and yack. We've even designed the devilish things so we can stick them right into our ears and have them physically attached to the sides of our heads.

We don't listen, or don't care. The use outweighs the risks? Really? It's troubling that the studies are iffys, maybes and sort ofs -- nothing concrete -- and in the meantime, hey, sorry I gotta take this call.

It's like a bad sci-fi movie ... "The Phone That Ate My Brain!" Back when I first got a cell phone I was in a new relationship and she also had a cell phone and, well, the bad movie would have been "The Phone That Ate My Wallet!" I always went over my allotted minutes, and my printed cell phone bill each month was heavier than my Rolling Stone magazine.

Making matters worse, I was still paying for an old school land line from AT&T because I needed it for my Internet connection at home. Paying two exorbitant phone bills was insult to injury on my finances.

For someone who likes gadgets, it took me forever to come around and purchase my first cellular telephone. Even now, some seven years later, it's still more of a nuisance than a pleasure. Seriously, I use my cell when I have to. I would much rather have a conversation with someone face to face, or use a land line.

But for many people, their cell phones have become an added appendage. A necessity. I've seen people get into their cars, adjust the seat, dial up someone on their cell phone and then start the engine and pull out of the driveway, only half paying attention to the road because they're already immersed in conversation.

We know excessive use could be dangerous but are we worried? No, we just have to be able to talk on the phone while we're racing down the road, sitting on the toilet, walking down the street and of course, standing in line at the grocery store.

I don't know what it would take for us to finally give up on the dastardly devices: Maybe if our ears literally started dropping off? Can you hear me know? That is all.

-- Managing Editor John Charles Robbins can be reached at (910) 272-6122 or jrobbins@heartlandpublications.com.

To see more of The Robesonian, go to http://www.robesonian.com/. Copyright (c) 2011, The Robesonian, Lumberton, N.C. Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services. For more information about the content services offered by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services (MCT), visit www.mctinfoservices.com.

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