No. They don’t. And despite the fact that I have no scientific evidence proving that cellphones are safe, I say that with complete confidence.
Last week, I was stuck at Logan Airport in Boston, gritting my teeth over a three-hour weather delay. To pass the time, I watched three hours of CNN. I thought enduring The Lou Dobbs Show was difficult until the topic of discussion on Larry King Live was titled “Cellphones: Dangerous or Safe?”.
My immediate answer to that question was, “Yeah, they’re fucking dangerous.” But my reaction considered the potential for accidents caused by teenagers texting while they drive. King was talking about cellphones causing brain cancer.
Predictably, the program was beyond dumb. This episode was insensitively timed to correspond with recent reports of Senator Ted Kennedy’s diagnosed brain tumor. King gave the floor to Dr. Vini Khurana, an associate professor from Australian National University. Concerned with the potential cellphones have for causing brain tumors–and more specifically, acoustic neuroma, a tumor between the ear and brain–he suggests using a headset or answering calls on speakerphone. I guess the only thing in the world more obnoxious than people babbling on their dorky Bluetooth headset would be listening to both sides of someone else’s conversation.
These are stupid, unrealistic solutions to a stupid, unproven problem. King also featured Dr. Michael Thun, representing the American Cancer Society, who attempted to keep an open mind about the subject, but ultimately stated that there was no substantial link between cellphone use and cancer. “The brain cancer rates have been flat since the introduction of cellphones,” he said. “That doesn’t completely clear the story, but it is an important piece of information.” Alongside the American Cancer Society are U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the World Health Organization who do not see cellphones as a health threat. I wonder if outspoken cellphone critics are still afraid of radiation emitted from their microwave.
Of course, King gave Dr. Khurana most of the airtime.
“I strongly disagree with Dr. Thun’s perspective…while there hasn’t been an increase in the rate of brain cancers overall, we have to also remember that they do take time before they are registered in local registries and that data has to be correlated and eventually that data will come through.”
So, until that data comes through, we should just live in fear.
But let’s entertain the idea that in ten years Dr. Khurana proves a correlation between cellphone use and acoustic neuroma. If that’s the case, then we’re already fucked–every single one of us. Because the reality is that we can’t escape the use of a cellphone, and considering the amount of time we’ve all been on one, it’s already too late. I’d rather be one of the billions of people with brain cancer than one of the handful of folks who kept their cell on speakerphone all these years. And what about those who have forecast the dangers of cellphone use? It’s not like they’ll be able to gloat and say “I told you so” to all of their cancerous friends. No sir. We’ll all be in it together. We’ll throw parties, and they won’t be invited.
When we’re all dead, their loneliness will wish the same fate upon themselves them, and they will finally start using their cellphones like a normal human being. But it won’t work, because there will be no one left to call.
It’s like bad science fiction–a cautionary tale without a moral backbone. The greater lesson here is just how far news networks will go to scare you into watching.
“Cucumbers: Dangerous or Safe? What this means for your weekend, at 8:00pm.”