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here has been much conjecture and numerous studies regarding the safety of mobile phones, in particular the potential hazards of exposure to electromagnetic radiation from handsets and base stations. The consensus of the World Health Organization (WHO) and global medical and scientific communities is there is no substantial evidence of an increased risk of cancer or other adverse health effects. However, we should err on the side of caution by keeping mobile calls short, using hands-free kits and only allowing children to use mobiles in emergencies, as their brains are still developing and their skulls are thinner, making them potentially more vulnerable to adverse effects from penetrating radio waves.

IS MOBILE PHONE USE SAFE? While most of the debate around the safety of mobiles has centred on the dangers of exposure to radiation and motor vehicle accidents if mobiles are used while driving, it should also be noted that having a mobile phone for communication in case of emergency is a safety and rescue tool which can save lives. Mobile phones are safe if used prudently and sparingly by adults who heed the safety warnings of not talking or texting while driving, turning phones off during sleep and keeping talk times to sensible levels. Also, check the specific absorption rate (SAR) rating of any phone you purchase. The SAR is the rate at which radiation is absorbed by the body and varies from one handset to another. All mobile phones must pass certain safety requirements, but it makes sense to buy one with a SAR value that is in a lower range.

■ Dr Cindy Pan has had over 10 years of clinical practice experience. Her books include Pandora’s Box: Lifting The Lid On Life’s Little Nasties (HarperCollins) and Playing Hard To Get (HarperCollins). She appears on television, lectures and speaks about all aspects of health, relationships and wellbeing.


t is too early to say whether mobiles are safe in the long term. There has been considerable research into this topic, so you can wait until researchers can conclusively state that it causes a disease process or you can heed warning signs. For something to be conclusive, it typically has to endure longitudinal studies. And don’t forget that mobile base stations are also a concern, especially their proximity to where you live. A few important facts: radio waves at their current guideline levels can cause a change in brain activity, although it is not known why; all experts agree that we must limit the use of mobiles by young children. Some interesting findings: laboratory tests on mice have shown radiation from mobile phones can have an adverse effect on their overall health; a Finnish study suggested

THE NATUROPATH LEAH HECHTMAN electromagnetic radiation did affect human brain tissue. Another study, by scientists in Sweden, claimed to have found a link between analogue mobile phones and brain tumours. You can minimise your exposure to radio waves in the following ways: only make short calls and only use a mobile phone when necessary; children should only use mobiles if it is absolutely necessary; find out the specific absorption rate (SAR) of your mobile; keep your mobile phone away from your body when it is in standby mode; only use your phone when the reception is strong. Weak reception causes the phone to use more energy to communicate with the base station. If possible, use a mobile phone that has an external antenna. This keeps radio waves as far from your head as possible.

■ Leah Hechtman is a naturopath and fertility specialist. She is a lecturer, author, researcher and industry consultant and has her own clinical practice in Sydney, NSW. She specialises in fertility, reproductive and psychological health. For more information visit

Sonia Kruger


HEALTH DEBATE 11 SUNDAY ■ Leah Hechtman is a naturopath and fertility specialist. She is a lecturer, author, researcher and industry consult...