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While the link between cell phone use and brain tumors has not been scientifically established — in fact, a recent U.K. Health Protection Agency group review of the scientific literature concluded that there’s no convincing evidence that cell phones cause cancer — concerns about overexposure of brain cells to radiofrequency waves (RF) from cell phone antennae continue to circulate. While there may not be a well-established link between cell phone use and cancer or tumors, there’s nevertheless evidence that cell phone use alters brain cell metabolism (the rate at which brain cells burn sugar for energy) . The significance of this finding is currently unknown, which makes some cell users nervous.
A company called Tawkon (pronounced “talk on”) has developed an app for the Android phone that can predict — not detect, since phones don’t have the ability to detect radiation — when a phone is most likely to be emitting high levels of RF on the basis of internal measurements, such as how strong the cell signal is.
From the Tawkon website:
Utilizing patent pending technology tawkon calculates the phone’s radiation level and hence the user exposure — SAR (Specific Absorption Rate, a universal measure for the amount of radiation being absorbed by the user). Our technology is calibrated in an FCC certified RF (Radio Frequency) lab with state-of-the-art equipment. With this information, we provide alerts and suggestions to keep your radiation exposure low.
The app manufacturer is careful to avoid referring to RF as dangerous, and emphasizes that suggestions for reducing RF exposure are only for those who feel such a reduction is important. Still, for individuals who are disconcerted by the current lack of information available on the effects of routine RF exposure, such apps may be useful.
- Volkow et al. Effects of cell phone radiofrequency signal exposure on brain glucose metabolism. JAMA. 2011 Feb 23;305(8):808-13.