Medical practice

Scientifically proven health risks of excessive mobile phone use

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” The excessive use of mobile phones can be harmful” , is no more a mere hypothesis. Recent studies are strongly in favour that it has many harmful effects in humans , even the potential to cause cancer.

If you have any doubts that mobile phones are anyways lesser  important for human survival than the discovery of fire or invention of wheel, here are facts.

There are more than 7 billion mobile phones in use which account for 96 phones for every 100 people on earth. In India , there are 1.18 billion active mobile phones, which means one phone each for  87% of population.  Hong Kong has 2.4 active mobile phones for every citizen in the country.

We do not need to debate on the usefulness of these devices. We all have experienced how  hard is to pass a single day away from it. From learning dancing to diving, from finding a doctor to a date, If there is anything you can define in word, mobile device can help you do it online. 

How long do  we use our mobile phones? 

 An average American spends more than four hours a days on mobile phones. An average India is slightly behind their american counterparts with little over 3 hours per day. The social media account for the largest share ( half) of the time spent on the mobile phones. Most of the mobile phones in use are smart phones with big screens. India alone has about 300 million active smart phones. 

Long duration of mobile phone usage has always been expected to cause problems. Now the scientific reports have began to pour in , showing that mobile phones usage indeed has side- effects associated with it. 

Most of the risk are benign but some of those are really serious.We start with the most scary one.


Brain tumors

When a person talks on phone ,  ear and brain are the organs near  to the  mobile hand set. These two organ are in close contact with the radio-frequency electromagnetic fields, emitted by mobile phones. 

Research experiments of mice reveal that radio-frequency electromagnetic fields from mobile phones, may produce  changes at  cellular level that increases the risk of cell death and cancer development in mice. What is more  is worrisome is the fact that  it can be transmitted to subsequent generations . 

Fortunately  a recent meta-analysis of the available data on the genetic damage  in human cells has failed to validate this hypothesis. 

 Scientist suggest that children are at even  greater increased risk of damage  .  

Children have  thinner skull bone which offers lesser protection to their brain from radio-frequency electromagnetic fields. They have  smaller head  so they  receive higher  dose of exposure per unit volume of brain tissue and have  increased brain conductivity.


The expert panel for the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC),classify cell phones as  possibly carcinogenic (Group 2B) . Which means that   mobile phones  are as cancerous as  lead (also in catagory  Group 2B)

There are four types of brain tumors which are been found to have association with mobile phone usages

The current studies published in peer reviewed journal  support the hypothesis that long-term (over 10 years) use of mobile phones increases the risk of certain type of brain tumors, especially if the  exposure  have been predominantly on one side of the head . 

The studies also say that if you have started using the phone on a regular basis before you were 20 years old, than you have four times higher   risk of having glioma ( a type of brain tumor )than the normal population. 

The “lifetime exposure dose.”of the total mobile use is also important. If somebody has a total lifetime exposure of ≥ 1640 h, the person has the 2.55 times higher risk of  having acoustic neuroma ( another type of brain tumor) , than normal population, one side of use.

Next time , when you see your children talking on the phone, you know what to do next. 

Some useful links


In high- and middle-income countries , one in 7  couples have problem of infertility.  More over the semen quality males have been reported to be declining, for which researcher could not associate a cause. 

Recent research reports have reported that long term use mobile phones was associated with reduced sperm motility which is an important determinant if the sperms will be able to perform its role in conception. 

Now you have a good reason to take your phone out of your pant pocket and place it some where else , if you are a male and have any  reason to protect your sperms.

Mobile phone addiction

The mobile phones are not only getting cheaper day by day and these are also becoming more functional . Mobile phones are finding their usage in every facet of our social and professional life. 

No body gets addicted to the phone overnight. One often  starts  using the phone for  of routine use like shopping and social media interactions.

 Some of these become addicted  to shopping  or checking the social media updates  as a way to escape unpleasant feelings or boredom. The “high” experienced when shopping  or getting likes or comments  on social media  may become  strategy to cope up with the stress and discomforts of life. 

The process of addiction suggests a distinction between liking and wanting. People start the use  of phone because they  like the phone and its functionality but slowly the phone becomes something that they “want” . Later means that the person feels physically or psycologically uncomfortable if removed away from phone.

 The mobile phone addiction is  seen as  part of   technological addictions which  is defined as  “non-chemical (behavioral) addictions that involve human-machine interaction” .

Then people began to so called  the tell tale signs mobile phone-addiction.

1. Frequently checking the phone. An average American checks his/her phone 110 times a day.

2. Using phone in toilet,  before going to sleep, immediately getting up in morning, on weekend, even in shower.

3. Sleeping with the phone under the pillow or close to bed.

4.Feeling uneasy if phone is left at home.

5. Checking job related mails even when on vacations, etc.

Welcome to the club if you also have many of the above habits. 

links to few  helpful books 

Road traffic and other type of accidents

Unless you are in a driver less car, it is no rocket science to understand that ,a driver needs to pay attention to the driving task, to avoid accidents.

Even a momentary distraction of driver, away from road can lead to a crash. You can not have a better distraction than the mobile phones. A report by National Highway Traffic Safety Administration study, estimates that it contributes to 20 -30 percent of all road accidents

A recent research from Taiwan shows that

  1. drivers were less responsive when they were having a conversation over a handheld mobile phone.
  2. Female drivers were more adversely affected by mobile phone use than male drivers when faced with obstacles falling in front.
  3. Older drivers were more adversely affected by mobile phone use than younger drivers.


Insufficient sleep and sleep disturbances are common among youth and adolescents around the world. From from 2006 60 2011, number of adolescents in the United States , having the sleep less than eight hours a day rose from 45% to 60%. 

Ninty percent of recently punished studies   report  a significant association between screen time and reduced sleep duration and increased sleep problems. Studies report that use of mobile phone at bedtime reduce the total sleep time by 20-45 minutes.

Depression and other psychiatric disorders

Following psychiatric disorders are associated with the use of mobile phone

Headache, fatigue, irritability, dizziness, loss of appetite, sleepiness, sweating, difficulty of concentration, memory loss, depression, emotional instability, dermographism, tremorhallucinations and insomnia.

Mobile phone usage contributes to the obesity by following ways 

1. Children tend to eat more as they keep getting food related clues by the content viewed on the mobile phone.

2. Children tend to choose food which is rich in calories but poor in other  nutritious values , because of excessive advertisement of fast food. Some of the unhealthy food is outright promoted as healthy foods.

3.They tend to delegate more time in physically inactive work like screen viewing than physical activities like playing.

4. Changes in the sleep pattern may also have contribution in the over all issue of obesity in these children.

Concluding :  As it is scientifically established that excessive mobile phone usage is indeed harful, we should try to limitt its use, as is possible.

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