Safer to Text Than to Talk

18 May

The World Health Organization recently completed a $24 million study on whether talking on cellphones is bad for your health. WHO got half the money for the study from the cellphone industry, but says it’s an unbiased survey. Still, the results of the 10-year study of 13,000 people in 13 countries is inconclusive as to whether the radio frequencies emitted by mobile devices cause cancer in humans.

WHO says the health/cellphone question needs more research.

In the May issue of Harper’s Magazine (full text, print only) Nathaniel Rich does an in-depth look at the health effects of talking on a cellphone. His conclusion, too, is inconclusive. No one really knows definitively whether the RF signals from your mobile phone are giving you cancer.

That’s not good news.

On the other hand, if you like uncertainty on life or death issues, chatting for hours on a cellphone is probably invigorating. Calling grandma is like playing Russian roulette. Will this be the call that kills me? There’s new drama in every long-winded conversation.

Concerned health officials, however, can take heart in the fact that people are texting more than calling. Less and less are we putting the phones near our delicate temporal lobe to chat. Instead, we are holding the devices at a safe distance and pecking away at tiny keyboards. According to the CTIA we sent 1.5 trillion text messages in 2009 while chatting a mere 1.12 trillion minutes. And texting is rising faster than talking. Better still, our more at-risk youth text far more than they talk.

So, please, do more texting than talking. It’s much safer, unless, of course, you happen to be driving. Then just put your hands on the wheel, shut up, and drive.

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