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Don't let dangerous radiation “cook” growing brains

A startling Swedish study shows that young people are five times more likely to get brain tumors if they use a cell phone before they’re 20. Other research finds that a mobile phone call lasting just two minutes can produce brain hyperactivity that lasts an hour in kids.

Even cordless phones emit dangerous radiation that can almost double heart rate variability and affect the autonomic nervous system, causing anxiety, blood pressure changes, fatigue, dizziness or fainting, and sleep disturbances, a new investigation in the European Journal of Oncology reports.

Why Kids Are at Risk
The problem is children’s brains absorb twice as much radiation from these phones as adult brains. Not only do youngsters have thinner skulls and smaller heads than adults, but their brains also continue developing during childhood and adolescence—only increasing their risk.

With kids spending “significant time on mobile phones,” warns David Carpenter, MD, dean of SUNY’s School of Public Health, “we may be facing a public health crisis in an epidemic of brain cancers.” In addition to brain tumors, research suggests cell phones can lead to hearing loss in kids.

“As our knowledge stands right now, interaction with fertility, the immune capacity, shattering of DNA, or impaired learning and intelligence will be much more dangerous than the extra cases of cancer,” adds radiation researcher Kerry Crofton, PhD. A growing number of countries—but, unfortunately, not ours—either forbid or discourage mobile phones for anyone under 18.

Testifying before Maine’s Health and Human Services Committee several months ago, Camilla Rees (coauthor of Public Health SOS: The Shadow Side of the Wireless Revolution) said, “It is possible society will look back on the unchecked proliferation of radiation-emitting cellular phones—as a crime against humanity.” But to date, only San Francisco requires retailers to post radiation information on mobile phones.

What Parents Need to Know
Parents appreciate cell phones because this technology allows them to reach their kids—and to be reached—in emergencies. In an ideal world, kids wouldn’t need mobile phones. But you’d never hear the end of it if your teen didn’t have one. Still, it’s important to remember that children aren’t just tiny versions of adults. Since you’re the parent, you get to set the rules!

Would you let your child put his/her head in a microwave oven? Of course not! But what you may not know is that radiation from cell phones is comparable to the microwaves from your oven. These kinds of electromagnetic fields (EMFs) easily penetrate kids’ brains. EMFs can cause breaks in the blood-brain barrier, which is more permeable in kids.

My latest book Zapped features an entire chapter on kids and cell phones—with ways to minimize their risks. For example, use speaker mode on all cell or cordless phones—and teach your kids do the same. Encourage them to text, rather than talk. And whenever possible, limit your children’s use of these phones only to emergencies.

If you can, avoid baby monitors, which operate like cordless phones. If you need a monitor for peace of mind, look for a used, older version that’s wired instead of the newer models with the stubby half-inch antenna. Keep monitors and even night-lights at least six feet away from sleeping children.

Resist the urge to cook with a baby on your hip. The kitchen is filled with EMF-producing appliances—particularly the microwave. Even frequent use of hair dryers, which emit magnetic fields, is more dangerous to children with their thinner skulls and smaller brains than it is to adults.

Pregnant? Limit your own mobile phone and PDA use to protect your growing child. Rates of autism, ADHD, learning problems in children have soared while exposure to electropollution has increased. In a small but significant study, alternative physician Dietrich Klinghardt, MD, found that a pregnant woman’s body voltage, as well as the body voltage of children in their bedrooms, was a predictor of autism and other serious neurological disorders. And research links Mom’s cell phone use during pregnancy with her children’s behavioral problems later in school.

In the same way that you protect your baby from other toxic exposure during pregnancy, it’s vital to limit exposure to electropollution, which can impact your child’s nervous system development—long before birth. Perhaps even more important, heavy-duty mobile phone use during pregnancy has been linked to risk of miscarriage and birth defects.

A Growing Problem
Approximately 277 million Americans use cell phones today. While independent research is rare in this country, multiple reports from Europe’s premier research institutions suggest growing risks at any age.

Cell phones and PDAs are being linked to “brain aging” (early-onset Alzheimer’s disease and other brain damage), as well as DNA damage. Based on his research, Swedish neurosurgeon Leif Salford, MD, is concerned, “a whole generation of [cell-phone] users may suffer negative side effects in middle age.” A new study in the Journal of Craniofacial Surgery suggests that EMFs may also have harmful effects on bone density, making it “better to keep mobile phones as far as possible from the body.”

And it’s not just cell phones! Computers, electronic games, faulty wiring, power lines, and Wi-Fi are all putting kids at risk. Electropollution in schools may be interfering with kids’ education and possibly contributing to disruptive behaviors.

A secret study in one Toronto school for children with learning disabilities, showed that students and teachers felt less frustrated, irritable, and tired when EMF-reducing filters were installed—without their knowledge. Some symptoms of ADD and ADHD also improved with filters.

In fact, the results were so startling that “I thought I’d made a mistake,” says researcher Magda Havas, PhD. Instead of the two percent improvement she expected, 55 percent of students and teachers felt better. Even those who had complained before the filters were installed “were feeling incredibly good,” Dr. Havas adds.

While it’s relatively easy to stick with or go back to wired technology at home, it’s getting harder to protect kids at school since every district and community now considers WiFi de rigueur. Some parents are starting to fight back, however. In one Chicago suburb, concerned parents filed suit against the Oak Park School District, claiming that exposure from wireless could cause their children neurological harm. In England, consumers, parents, and teachers have all called for suspending Wi-Fi in schools.

The Cancer Connection
Dr. Carpenter believes that up to 30 percent of childhood cancers stem from EMF exposure, and an increasing number of studies have shown damaging effects far below accepted safety levels for mobile phones and other sources of electropollution. For example, research finds when children live near magnetic fields 1,000 times lower than existing safe exposure limits, their risk for cancer increases.

Living near power lines that produce EMFs has clearly been linked to leukemia in children. Research also finds increased tumor risks within 1200 feet of cell phone or radio towers—and more and more, these towers are popping up on church steeples and school roofs.

Zap-Proof Foods and Supplements Defend your children and yourselves against invisible EMF assaults with nutrition. Eating one cup of blueberries a day is a good way to start. Prunes (or called dried plums now for PR purposes) contain unique antioxidants that fight free radicals from electropollution. Stuffed with an almond or walnut, prunes make a delicious snack that kids like as much as candy. Melatonin—the hormone that controls circadian rhythms in sleep and wake cycles—also protects against this kind of radiation. Tart cherries are rich in melatonin as well as other antioxidants.

Also eat more cabbage family veggies—broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kale—to boost the super antioxidant glutathione. Cabbages also contain caffeic acid, shown to reduce harmful effects from cell phone use.

For added protection, enjoy a daily smoothie that contains one to two scoops of whey, rich in the antioxidant glutathione, a potent scavenger of free radicals that damage DNA. Choose pure, undenatured and unheated whey protein powder to preserve fragile amino acids and provide optimal immune support.

Besides protecting bone health, vitamin D fights EMFs. Look for children’s multivitamins that contain calcitrol, the active form of vitamin D, to activate the immune response that mobile phone radiation tamps down.

Start protecting your children today to ensure a safer tomorrow for them.

Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS

Visionary health expert Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS, has always been a trendsetter. With millions of followers nationwide, she has the uncanny ability to pinpoint major health concerns and provide solutions years ahead of anybody else.

Highly respected as the grande dame of alternative health and award-winning author of 30 books, she single-handedly launched the weight loss/detox revolution in her New York Times bestseller The Fat Flush Plan. A Connecticut College and Teachers College, Columbia University graduate, Dr. Ann Louise was recognized as one of the top ten nutritionists in the country by Self magazine and was the recipient of the American Medical Writers Association award for excellence. She has been a popular columnist for First magazine since 2003.