Cell Phone Radiation

Is This the Most Important Cancer Issue of Our Time?

Cell Phone Radiation

Another day, another technology scare.

Yesterday the World Health Organization (WHO) International Agency for Research on Cancer issued a press release here. The body of this press release says: 

“The WHO /International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified radio frequency electromagnetic fields as possibly carcinogenic to humans (group 2B) based on an increased risk for glioma, a malignant type of brain cancer, associated with wireless phone use.

Sounds scary right? Does this mean that what smoking and lung cancer were to our parent's generation, cell phones and brain cancer will be to ours?

I’ll give you a brief lesson (my high school science teacher would be so proud):

Cell phones use a powerful form of microwave energy called electromagnetic radiation (or EMR) to communicate with cell towers. EMR is energy that travels in waves through space. As you can guess by the name, it has electric and magnetic properties. The measurement of EMR is based on the frequency of its waves.  EMR within one wavelength of the user is called Near Field Intensity (or NFI), when you hold your cell phone to your ear, you are absorbing some of this radiation.

Since I am clearly not a doctor or a scientist, I won’t claim to understand all of the underlying research in the WHO release, the full body of which will be published in a few days online.  What I do know however, is that scientists have been telling us not to hold our cell phones right against our bodies for years (Read here ). In fact, if you’ve ever actually read your cell phone manual you’ll know that cell phone manufacturers give warnings, asking users to keep cell phones at least 15mm away from the body.  The confusing part about all of this latest message from the WHO is that other reputable organizations like The American Cancer Society don’t necessarily agree with the current research (Read here).  

Whichever side you choose to stand on, I think we would all agree that it’s better to be safe than sorry, and luckily there are some easy ways to reduce your exposure to cell phone radiation:

  Use Bluetooth headsets when you’re on a call;

  Put your phone in sleep or airplane mode when you’re sleeping with your phone on your bedside table;

  Text more often (it makes sense right? You’re keeping your phone at arm's length);

  If your geeklings are playing with your cell phone, turn the send and receive function off – why expose them to more than they need?

  If you’d feel more comfortable with a more hardcore solution you can also purchase a radiation blocking case.

In the past, companies have tried to reduce EMR by making cases to fit cell phones that would block the waves from reaching your head. The problem with these cases was that they would do as they promised – they would block not only the NFI wave, but they would also block some of the Far Field Intensity (FFI) waves needed to communicate with the cell towers and call quality would drop. The cases were, as you can imagine, as physically ugly as their performance.

This is where company Pong Research comes in. They sell the only case approved by the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to protect users from cell phone radiation. They have cases available for BlackBerry and iPhone, and soon Android phones, that claim to reduce 95% of your exposure to cell phone radiation.

From Pong’s website, Pong™ Case Features:

•    Protect your head and body from unnecessary radiation exposure
•    Reduce concerns about possible health risks
•    Minimalist, silicone form fit design covers all corners and sides
•    Pong micro-thin antennae module reduces your exposure to cell-phone radiation
•    Access to all ports and functions
•    Pong may even enhance your phone's signal strength

The case looks sleek enough, and fits tightly to the phone. It’s a little pricey, but if it does what it claims to, I’ll be purchasing a couple for our house.

The cell phone radiation debate seems to be heating up, and is certainly an interesting one.  What are your thoughts? How often do you use your cell phone? Are you scared about what this means for your kids? Is this the most important 'Cancer' issue of our time?


An App That Might Save Your Boobs

A Quick Download and Check Is All It Takes

An App That Might Save Your Boobs

Breast Cancer is something we don't want to think about, but it affects most of us. In fact, even though most of you know someone affected by the disease, I bet most of you can't even tell me the last time you've done a self exam.

Before I go further, I'll give you a quick glimpse into my first time doing a self exam. I was perched on the counter of my bathroom, trying to read the steps from a pamphlet my family doctor gave me that I had taped to the mirror in front of me. For some reason I had a foot propped on a foot stool and as I raised my left arm over my head I couldn't help but laugh thinking of Mick Jagger on stage singing “Checkin' up on My Baby.” I'm sure I looked like an awkward teenager trying to get to first base, but, something is better than nothing, and I was shocked to find out that the self breast exam I had dreaded for so long was so easy to do.

Self exam and early detection are key to beating the disease, and The Canadian Breast Cancer foundation has made it easier for busy Mom's and Dad's to remember when to schedule their self check and clinical exams by creating a free app that is available by clicking here, or searching “Canadian Breast Cancer” in iTunes. The Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation BC-Yukon has a similar app called 'Don't forget to check' that is also available in iTunes or by clicking here. The app is incredibly easy to use, and is compatible with iPhone, iPod and iPad devices.

When you first open the app you will see the reminders for your next self check, next clinical exam, and your next mammogram. They are easy to set, and even better, they integrate with your calendar to remind you when it's time to perform your exam.

When you're in the app, clicking on 'Be Breast Aware' will walk you through the 5 steps of completing your self exam.

Step 1: Know how your breasts normally look and feel

Step 2: Know what changes to look for

Step 3: Look and feel for changes

Step 4: Report any changes to a doctor

Step 5: Go for a free mammogram if you are of the appropriate age or it is recommended by a doctor

The steps are easy to follow, and they explain in easy to understand terms and pictures how to know what changes to look for, and how to check for them.

Finally, there is a link in the app to donate to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation that will take you to their website which outlines the many options for donation, which I hope (nudge nudge) most of you will do after downloading the app today.

You can find the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation app by searching iTunes apps for “Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation.” It's free to download, is compatible with iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad, and is available in English and French.

I highly recommend the app for those of you who have never gotten the pamphlet, and even for those who may need a refresher.

So, what are you waiting for? This free download could save your breasts, and your life.



Glucose Monitoring Becomes Cool


I can only imagine how hard it is to be a parent of a child with diabetes. Not only do you have to worry about their health constantly, but you also have to deal with the stigma some kids feel while having to interrupt their school day and activities for blood sugar testing.

To try and make the testing process something children would enjoy, Bayer, who is already a forerunner in the test strip and glucose monitor market, began working with a parent who noticed his son was constantly misplacing his glucose meter, but never lost his Nintendo GameBoy.  Partnering with Nintendo, they were all able to work together to develop a system that would work with children and parents to help manage the disease.

They came up with an interactive solution called ‘DIDGET’.  The DIDGET bundle includes a monitor that has the usual capabilities, as well as a USB port to connect to your PC to download test data. The bonus included in the kit however, is a seriously cool game called Knock 'Em Downs: World's Fair (think Club Penguin at a carnival).  

The system works like this: the child takes their blood sugar as usual. When the meter reading is complete, the child or their grownup can connect the meter into the GameBoy Advance slot in the Nintendo DS or DS Lite.  The way this experience is made extra cool for the child is that they are rewarded for testing their blood sugar levels by getting points! That’s right Moms, testing just became cool!  (You can see a full demo of the system here)

The points that are earned through testing can be redeemed to unlock new game levels, get new mini-games, and purchase items in the game.  My favourite part of this system is that points are awarded to the child for staying within parent or practitioner defined ranges, NOT for reaching specific numbers.  Also, the child can’t get additional points awarded for doing ‘extra’ testing. They get points for up to four tests in 24 hours, but nothing else.

The DS game itself is really fun to play. The premise is that you are travelling the world to complete tasks, mini-games etc. The interface is super cute, easy to learn, and I’m sure I could have spent hours playing it myself.

I love when technology meets health like this! Bayer's NEW DIDGET™ meter is available in Canada, and is free with the purchase of CONTOUR® test strips

Do you have a diabetic child? What do you think of this idea?