There's been a lot of hubbub in the news recently about the potential risks of cellular phones. Do they cause cancer? How much cancer are they going to cause? Will the cancer roll over from month to month?
Well, the cancer thing seems to have been overblown, but apparently the jury is still out on a whole host of much weirder effects your phone could (could) be having on you right now. For instance ...
#7. It Might Be Killing Your Sperm
Let's clear something up first:
All cellphones, if you haven't heard, emit electromagnetic radiation. The study of what this radiation does to the body is relatively new. So for instance, for a while people thought maybe holding a phone up to your head all day caused brain tumors, and that wasn't dispelled until very recently, when somebody finally did a huge study that found that they don't.
That swelling you're experiencing is a normal symptom of the average smartphone user.
So when you see all of these headlines on the Internet about the negative health effects of cellphones, what we have are smaller studies that indicate some kind of weird effect (i.e., a phone can fry a man's balls), and we're all waiting for somebody to fund a larger, longer-term study to find out for sure (if cellphones are frying men's balls).
Which brings us to a couple of studies that indicate cellphones might be frying men's balls.
Also, phones can cause short-term memory loss, so here's some studies about frying balls.
It started a few years ago when researchers at the Cleveland Clinic found that men who used cellphones a lot (more than four hours a day) consistently had lower sperm quality. OK, that could be something other than the phones themselves -- maybe low-sperm guys just like phones, where more virile dudes like to conduct all of their meetings face to face because there is a better chance of spontaneous sex.
A lot of you are clearly compensating for something.
So, they tested it. They gathered sperm from a few dozen men and, while keeping it all at the same temperature/conditions, put half of it in front of a cellphone and left the other half alone. On average, the doctors found an 85 percent increase in the amount of free radicals in the phone semen (if you don't remember what free radicals are from chemistry class, just know that sperm don't like them).
We know what you're thinking: "I don't put my phone up to my crotch except for when I'm having phone sex! Because I don't know how phone sex works!" But the problem is headsets -- when you are using a headset or earpiece, you tend to leave the phone in your pocket, or in your lap. If you're a dude, that's next to your nuts.
If you're a girl, adding one phone to each bra cup oddly won't do any harm at all.
Again, that's just one study, and they admit the conditions in the lab didn't perfectly imitate those you find inside a human ball sack. Further study is needed, so they're probably looking for irradiated scrotum subjects if you know anyone who wants to volunteer. Maybe you'll turn into some kind of testicle-themed superhero!
#6. It Could Be Ruining Your Children
This one is quite a bit weirder.
A huge study has shown that women who regularly expose their children to cellphone emissions, both while pregnant and after birth, are 50 percent more likely to have children with behavioral problems. And we're talking about numbers that held up across a study of almost 100,000 mothers and nearly 30,000 children. That's a hell of a lot to write off to coincidence.
Yet just about enough to write off in a massive traffic accident.
Now, our readers are smart people, and we realize 80 percent of you have already asked your computer, "Could it be that phone users have bad kids because these horrible mothers are on their phones all the time instead of raising their goddamned children?" But their experiments tried to control for that; it didn't matter how much or how little time the mother spent giving direct attention to the kid, or whether or not they were breast fed, or anything else. The only difference was phone usage.
"I'd like to talk about my prepaid plan. Yes, I'm a baby."
The theory goes that cellphone emissions are causing an excess of melatonin (a hormone that regulates several bodily functions) in the mother. This can affect the mother's metabolism and doodle with the development of the fetus's brain.
Meanwhile, there are still scientists insisting that cellphone radiation can disrupt DNA strands, even though conventional wisdom has always been that microwave radiation can't do that. They say they can show the results in mice and rabbits and that, you guessed it, further study is needed.
And someone desperately needs to scrape their remains off the walls.
#5. Your Cellphone Is Destroying Your Senses
So as we alluded to, the problem is that science is trying to understand the long-term effects of a technology that hasn't been around long term. The "every human has a phone pressed to their skull for six hours a day" era only started recently. There could be all sorts of effects that simply take longer to show up -- maybe using a cellphone every day for 40 years gives you telekinesis. How would we know, until we finally had a large enough population that has been using them that long?
So it's hard to immediately dismiss it when, for instance, somebody says your phone might be very slowly cooking your eyeballs.
Your superpowers are tripping up and repelling women, and only one of them is caused by being blind.
Several years ago, a team in Israel did a study exposing cow eyes to the kind of heat and radiation given off by phones (cow eyes are similar to human eyes). They found that if you do it long enough, tiny bubbles start to form in the lens of the eye -- a precursor to cataracts.
Then a year ago, researchers in India said the same thing, pointing out that the problem isn't just that the radiation heats up your eyeball, but that your eye doesn't have a good way to dissipate the heat into the rest of your body, since it's kind of a self-contained orb up there. You've seen how easy it is to just pluck them out in horror movies.
"Heeeyyyy, my cataracts are gone! Ow!"
Not that your hearing is getting off any easier; another study found that using your phone for 60 minutes a day over the course of four years can lead to inner ear damage, which leads to high-frequency hearing loss. What does that look like? It looks like not being able to make out consonant sounds like S, F, T and Z. The vowels are still understood, but unless you plan on taking up permanent residence in Hawaii, you're going to need those consonants to communicate.
But hey, your yelling will make it easier to block out those annoying commuters.
What would cause that? They're not sure; the researchers who did that study guessed that maybe the radiation affects the inner ear somehow, while an audiologist says listening to anything that long can damage your hearing. You don't think of a phone conversation as loud, but cramming a little speaker against your ear is harder on your hearing than having the same conversation in person. You know, the same reason ear doctors have been warning us about our iPod ear buds since the things were invented.
"They have terrible sound quality. Are you deaf?"
#4. Your Phone Is Encrusted With Germs
We have previously pointed out how everyday objects around your house become germ sponges, especially anything that comes in constant contact with your hands (let's put it this way -- you should take a break after you read this and wipe down your keyboard). And one of the germiest parts of your body is your mouth -- this is why you freak out when a homeless man licks your face.
We're developing some kind of skin disease and a high level of arousal.
Now think about your phone. In addition to spending hours getting covered in your breath and tiny flecks of spit, ask yourself where your hand was before you answered it. Picking something from your teeth? Or nose? Handling some raw chicken? In other words, your phone is getting bombarded with germs every time it's used. So, knowing that ... how often do you disinfect your phone? Have you ever?
We don't have to speculate about how filthy it is; let's let Andy Felton, director of a microbial sterilization systems company in England, explain the research to you: "Based on these findings, holding your phone to your mouth is as dangerous as placing your face on a toilet bowl."
And let's face it, your phone just doesn't understand you like Ol' Bowlie does.
And if you think that all you're doing is giving your own germs back to yourself, think about the next time you see a doctor. Hospitals and clinics are sterile environments, right? There are cleaning stations everywhere, people put on gloves before handling sick patients. It's just too bad that doctors are wiping their asses with their cellphones. Or, to put it more scientifically:
"A new study checked out the mobile phones of 200 doctors and nurses, and found that 95 percent of them were contaminated with bacteria, while 1 in 8 had the MRSA staph bug."
"Here's my kid. One of you may die of complications in surgery today."
The doctors, like you, don't regard their phones as being filth magnets. They touch their phones, then they touch your junk. All of those safety measures and precautions are flung out the door when doctors smear their hands and faces with bacteria that includes superbugs like MRSA, which are resistant to one or more commonly used antibiotics.
Only 10 percent of the health care professionals involved in the study actually admitted to cleaning their phone on a routine basis, which really makes you wonder what the other 90 percent of them were doing during the lecture on germs in medical school.
They were playing Angry Birds on their diarrhea phones.
Dr. Charles Gerba, a microbiologist at the University of Arizona, has come to the same funktastic conclusion. "We have found [the superbug] MRSA on several cellphones," he said. "So we certainly find a lot of stuff on them -- particularly the flip kind, since they have surfaces that do not dry out." So not only are flip phone owning doctors behind on the technological curve, they're also rubbing their face bacteria all over you.