How to reduce cell phone health risks

Woman using cell phone

I remember once being asked for my mobile phone number by a shop assistant in Australia so she could call me when my photocopying order was finished. When I explained that I didn’t have a phone, she looked at me in astonishment and asked, ‘What planet are you from?’

For many people, life without a smartphone is unthinkable. Increasingly it’s not even possible to own a bank account or sign up for certain services without having a cell phone number to enter in the required box or the ability to receive a 2-Factor Authentication SMS code.

So what can be done to at least reduce the possibility of health risks when using a phone? Here are some tips:

How to reduce your radiofrequency exposure

  • Use your phone only when necessary, and keep the call short.
  • Where possible, try to only use your phone in areas with the best signal, as this can reduce the emissions by up to 500 times.
  • Indoors, use your phone near the window and make sure it is between your body and the window
  • Hold the phone away from your body immediately after dialing, as the phone uses maximum power until the call is connected.
  • Where possible, do not hold the phone next to your eyes, breasts, testicles, kidneys, liver or abdomen if pregnant – ideally, keep the phone away from your body (such as in a bag) when it is not in use.
  • Using a mobile phone in a car or train traps the fields inside the metal frame of the vehicle, and should be avoided except in an emergency.
  • If you are not imminently expecting a phone call, you can greatly reduce your exposure by having the phone switched off when you carry it around instead of just on standby. Your phone will contact the nearest mast every time you move into a different masts coverage and also checks regularly even when you are stationary. This contact is always made at the phone’s full power.
  • Choose a phone that has a low SAR, but don’t rely on that to guarantee your safety. SARs vary by a factor up to about 5. Some high SAR phones are actually very efficient and normally work at low power, some low SAR phones are inefficient and normally have to work at high power. The smaller phones often have higher SARs and therefore are likely to produce higher exposure levels.
  • Don’t rely on pseudo-scientific gizmos to give you protection.

Related articles
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Copyright © Karen Kingston 2010, updated 2019


About Karen Kingston

Karen Kingston is a leading expert in clutter clearing, space clearing, feng shui and healthy homes. Her two international bestselling books have combined sales of over three million copies in 26 languages and have established themselves as "must read" classics in their fields. Her best-known title, Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui, is now in its fourth edition. She is best known for her perspective-changing insights and practical solutions that enable more conscious navigation of 21st-century living.
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13 Responses to How to reduce cell phone health risks

  1. Wanda says:

    I have an acoustic neuroma (tumor) in my right ear which I am quite confident was caused by misusing a cell phone in the early 2000s. I talked for long periods of time with my phone at my right ear because I am right handed. The phone would get warm. I am fortunate that my tumor is not growing quickly, they are not cancerous, and I am 64 years old. But the only options if they cause problems are brain surgery and radiation. Don’t hold your cell phone close to your ear!

  2. Deborah says:

    Thanks Karen, I’m about to buy a new phone and knew I could trust you to have pertinent information. All your work is appreciated.

  3. Katherine Larsen says:

    What about using the “Speaker” feature on your cell phone rather than putting the phone directly to your ear? Then you can keep the phone away from your body while still making the call.

  4. Ann says:

    I too feel my ear and head start to burn when I use a cell phone for any length of time (over about a minute in my case). My solution has been to use an earphone plugged into the phone when possible to keep the phone away from my head, or to call the person back on my landline if I can. Your advice about where to place it when I’m out and about is also valuable — thank you!

  5. Grace says:

    After reading this information about the hazards of cell phones, perhaps I’m lucky that the reception is so bad with my iPhone. It tends to be impossible for me to have a phone call on this phone that lasts longer than a few minutes because the call drops. The ATT service in the metropolitan area where I live is notoriously bad with iPhones. Guess we’re actually lucky!

  6. Maria says:

    Thanks Karen. There is more out there that we do not know than we do. The invisible is hard to measure and study. I find it difficult to use the phone in some cars, not so much in the convertible 🙂

  7. Anna says:

    I’ve always got headaches from making calls on mobile phones., and have found that the simplest ways to minimise mobile conversations is to divert the calls to a landline whenever convenient. An added advantage is that the sound is clearer on a landline. But check how much your mobile provider charges for call diversion.

  8. jeanette anderson says:

    So, this is not exactly a scientific experiment, but I feel the need to share an experience I have recently had…

    I had a root canal in a right molar a year and a half ago. There had been been considerable pain before the procedure, but even after the root was taken out I still felt discomfort in the area, ranging from my lower jaw to my ear to my eye socket, on the right side. I was noticing that the pain seemed to increase when I used my cell phone, with and without a bluetooth. I hated talking on that phone.

    I had the tooth X-rayed to see if there was any sign of abcess, and there was none. I had my bite checked several times. Three dentists couldn’t explain that amount of pain.

    I finally decided to trust my intuition and got a land line last month, and have been using my cell phone very little ever since. Within a week my jaw pain was GONE. I never expected such a dramatic response, or, really, any response at all. When I have conversations on my cell that last longer than, say, five minutes, I feel the pain creeping back, but to a much lesser degree. I’m trying not to kick myself for not taking action sooner, or to envision possible long-term repercussions, and to just feel grateful that I actually took myself seriously.

    My hope is that sharing here can serve as inspiration for others to honor what their bodies might be telling them about the effects of wireless technology. Don’t be afraid of what others may think – just take care of yourself.

  9. Dave says:

    Given that there’s not a shred of evidence that there’s any negative health effects due to mobile phones and mobile phones have been in common use for over 20 years, then this advice is alarmist at the very least. Still, there must be money in keeping people scared, eh?

    • Karen Kingston says:

      Hi Dave,

      I’ve been studying this for over 20 years now and there is actually a lot of evidence. Click on the link below for over 100 reputable scientific studies that have concluded there can be health risks associated with using a cellphone:

      http://www.powerwatch.org.uk/rf/phones.asp

      But I don’t want to get into debate with people about this. If you find my advice helpful, you are welcome to take it. If not, just carry on as you are. I’m not selling anything here.

    • Deb says:

      Maybe you’re not aware of what’s been found to be true about mobile phones, Dave? In Australia a couple of surgeons have no doubt about the effect of EMR from mobile phones on people and have been on a few documentaries. They’ve had such an undisputed increase in operations on brain tumours in the last ten years or so, always on the side of the head that the person used their mobile phone, and right where the antenna sat against their heads. These surgeons were part of the push to the World Health Organisation to change their unsupported ‘safety’ statement about phones, and the WHO agreed to change their rating after being shown the facts.

  10. D. Ikeda says:

    is there any research out about iphones? I wonder about ” talking” into a computer so close to the head! and these bluetooth things that people put on their ears. makes me nervous just thinking about it!

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