• The New Addiction

    Cell phone usage is out of control for people of all ages in our society. In the early 1900’s smoking was fashionable. After 40 years there were many brands from which to choose. It was the “in” thing to do; no one ever thought about the health risks or possible addictions.

    In the early 1980’s cell phones hit the market. At first they were only used for emergencies. Some 13 years later, 15 million Americans were using cell phones. Now in 2011, five billion people are exposed to cell phones. Talking and texting on cell phones have become the new “in” thing to do. As with cigarettes, cell phones were deemed safe by the FDA, and the majority of Americans never thought about possible health risks.

    Debate over the health risks of cellphones continues, but a recent report from the World Health Organization reporting that cellphones are “possibly carcinogenic” is a step closer toward indicating that cell phones are not safe. In the last decade numerous warnings about cell phones have been published and generally dismissed. The state of Maine recognizes the risks and recently approved warning labels to be placed on cell phones. Robert Becker, M.D., of The Body Electric, says, “The cell phone is the most dangerous device ever created.”

    What did we do before cell phones? I believe cell phone use has become the new addiction. What are addictions? According to J. Frascella of The National Institute of Drug Abuse, “Addictions are repetitive behavior.” K. DesMaison, Ph.D., says, “They are the habitual, physiological and psychological dependence on a substance or practice beyond one’s voluntary control.”

    An addiction is the inability to walk away from the substance or activity. You can’t live without it. Is see this in society now. How many times have you sat in a restaurant and seen families sitting together, each with a cell phone texting or talking on the cell phone? They’re not even talking to each other. How many times have you seen people walking around holding their cell phone doing every day activities, such as shopping, laundry, walking the dog, taking the baby for a stroller ride, ride a bike, etc? These people are dependent on their cell phones; using them has become an addiction.

    It is no longer only an adult activity. Attempting to keep up with the times, toy manufacturers and the media are making toy cell phones and cell phone ads that appeal to children, so that the obsession with talking on these devices starts at a very young age. Everyone at every age wants one. With free, unlimited minutes or texts, people are on their phones longer, exposing themselves and those around them. As with any addiction, the addict is not the only one affected; family members and those around them suffer too. When the addict doesn’t get their substance, what happens? Their behavior changes. Panic, even anger, sets in. Take away a cell phone from a teenager and what do you get?

    The mechanism for all addictions is the same, whether it’s food, drugs, alcohol, or cell phones. We have a thermostat in the hypothalamus of the brain to control our appetite for food or other substances, according to our metabolism. This thermostat is disrupted in people with metabolic problems and cellular miscommunication.

    What are the consequences of cell phone addictions? Health decline, social disassociations, auto accidents and death ( from accidents using cell phones). Ironically, cell phones represent a danger to our molecular cells.

    In our bodies, health decline starts with cellular communication. Cells communicate in order to process and consume energy. If there is a miscommunication for a long period of time, then tissues, organs and organ systems begin to malfunction.

    We have receptors on every cell membrane of every cell in our bodies. These receptors are chemical and vibrational. The vibrational receptors pick up signals which vibrate in the hertz range. As cell phone’s radio wave contacts the vibrational receptors on the cell membrane anywhere in the body, especially in the brain, the information carrying radio wave is recognized as a foreign invader and begins disrupting cellular communication and function. The body will then try to protect itself by shutting down the active transport channels in the cell membrane resulting in a change of the permeability of the cell membrane. Cell walls become hardened when they’re trying to protect themselves, trapping toxins in and keeping nutrients out. Toxic build-up over time creates free radicals and destroys mitochondria. When mitochondria can’t generate energy, cells can’t detoxify, and cell l-to-cell communication is lost. Free radical build up interferes with repair and replication of DNA. Hence, cancer can form. “Combined with poor nutrition, toxic chemical exposure and other factors, these electromagnetic fields might impair the body’s immune system through a collective influence,” says J. Geary of Popular Science, 2010. According to Sherrill Sellman, N.D., in 2007 of Electropollution, all aspects of life at the molecular, cellular, biochemical and physiological levels can potentially be damaged by electromagnetic radiation exposure.

    With any addiction cessation program, support is vital for success.

    It took two decades of study and 100 years of consumer use to gather enough data to meet research standards before the U.S. Surgeon General put warnings on cigarettes. Maine is on the right track with its new ruling. But how many peole must suffer the consequences of ill effects from cell phones before the link is recognized and the U.S. Surgeon General puts warnings in every state on every cell phone?

    As a holistic health care provider, I would encourage you to not wait until the studies show positive conclusive evidence that cell phones are dangerous enough to cause cancer. Be proactive and start protecting yourself now.

    Tips to protect yourself:

    1. Cell phones are a lifestyle factor. Adjust your lifestyle first. Put the cell phone down away from your body.
    2. Reduce the number of minutes spent on the phone.
    3. Choose low-tech versions with less radiation. The new Droids and Blackberries have the highest EMF.
    4. Switch the phone off at night.
    5. Keep cell phones and other EMF generating devices away from vulnerable body parts.
    6. Use speaker phone as much as possible.
    7. Do not talk on a cell phone when pregnant or carrying a small child.
    8. Use “airplane mode” or turn off the phone in public places.
    9. Don’t talk on cell phones in vehicles. Besides the proven accidents this causes, these enclosed areas trap radiation and exposure is higher in enclosed metal surroundings. The phone has to use more power to maintain connections.
    10. Avoid second-hand cell phone exposure. Like cigarettes, second hand smoke is just as dangerous. So, too, is second-hand cell phone exposure because you are between the transmitter and receiver of the other person’s cell phone. You are getting bombarded with the radiation and you are not even talking on your phone. Wi-fi spots are the worst for this.
    11. Texting avoids the brain area, but you are still holding the electromagnetic device which puts your body at risk of exposure.
    12. Pay attention to the signal bars on the display panel of your cell phone. Fewer bars indicates a weaker signal.
    13. Use electromagnetic protectors, nutritional, and antioxidants specific for brain health.
    14. Use a land-line phone more often than cell phones.

    The electromagnetic world is here to stay, but each one of us is responsible for taking proactive steps to protect ourselves and our families from the dangers of cell phones. Make your goal to use the cell phone less each day. You might find your communication skills with your friends and family are improved. If you would like help with specific cell phone protection, home remediation, and nutritional consultations regarding this topic, email christineandrew@christyins.ipage.com.

    Christine Andrew, CNC, CFDM is a certified nutrition consultant and certified functional diagnostic medicine consultant. She operates a holistic healthcare practice at Individualized Nutrition Services at 348 Cernon St. Ste A in downtown Vacaville.