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Medicine Cellphones Handhelds Science

Mobile Phone May Rot Your Bones 220

Stoobalou writes "Researchers at the National University of Cuyo, in Mendoza, Argentina, looked at that strange breed — men who wear mobile phones on their hip. They discovered evidence to suggest that the proximity of the mobile phone caused a reduction in bone mineral content (BMC) and bone mineral density (BMD) in the men who wore the phones over a 12-month period, compared to a control group that didn't."
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Mobile Phone May Rot Your Bones

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  • In this context... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by L4t3r4lu5 ( 1216702 ) on Monday March 28, 2011 @10:18AM (#35639028)
    ... significant means "statistically significant" i.e. there was a correlation. "Significant" doesn't mean large, great, or disasterous. Too often mainstream press will pressure the reader into assuming it means something more than this.
  • Re:Wow ... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by thehostiles ( 1659283 ) on Monday March 28, 2011 @10:20AM (#35639054)

    if this were true, people who work with high levels of electromagnetic fields daily (like MRI technicians) would be pretty much made of jelly.

    I'm highly skeptical of this, but I'd like to see the actual study article.

  • by ledow ( 319597 ) on Monday March 28, 2011 @10:24AM (#35639136) Homepage

    Carry my phone in my pocket all the time. Have done for the last 10 years or so.

    In the risks I run each day, the usage of a mobile phone comes very near the bottom of the list, near "lifting a piece of paper up while seated at my desk" and "blowing my nose".

    It's actually NOT worth my time worrying about, because the worrying would do much more damage to my body than the phone ever would in normal usage.

    Personally, until it approaches the risk of myself drinking about a litre of Coke a day (which I've done for years), I'm very unlikely to start worrying. And yes, Coke is incredibly "dangerous" - sugar, acid, calcium-leeching chemicals (in the Diet versions, I believe) and all sorts of problems. But when a sip of Coke is that dangerous, a mobile phone hardly figures in my reckoning.

  • Control Group (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Heshler ( 1191623 ) on Monday March 28, 2011 @10:34AM (#35639306)
    They need a control group that wears the phones but has transmitting functions turned off or the phone turned off all together. Perhaps the reported result is due to the mechanical abrasion of wearing the phone.
  • by TheTurtlesMoves ( 1442727 ) on Monday March 28, 2011 @10:34AM (#35639308)
    And lets not forget, lies, dam lies, and then statistics. I don't know about this study (I have too much on), but a lot of medical research has very poor statistics if not just plain outright wrong.

    I was with a group that was suppose to support the medical R&D with statistics and the like for their publications. It was hard working getting them to do anything more than plug a few numbers into a website for a t-test. One guy came with a data set and asked us to show the difference in some measured parameter between the control and experimental group. We could show that there was no statistical difference. The guy said, and i really am quoting him here, "That's why people don't bring you their data!", and stormed out of the meeting room.

    For some reason a lot of people, people in science even, in particular medical science, think that if two groups of data have a different mean, they are different.
  • Re:Wow ... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by nedlohs ( 1335013 ) on Monday March 28, 2011 @10:35AM (#35639332)

    It's a tiny change so you wouldn't expect broken hips "all over the place".

    The BMD of the phone wearing side was 0.3% lower than the non-phone wearing side. And the BMC 1.3% lower. On average anyway - and there was a difference between sides in the control group to, they aren't going to be exactly equal usually.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 28, 2011 @10:46AM (#35639496)

    It's actually NOT worth my time worrying about, because the worrying would do much more damage to my body than the phone ever would in normal usage.

    Ignorance is less stressful, indeed. There are many other more important issues to deal with, but why not keep the darn phone a tad farther from your bones anyway ? Just to be sure. Would you say it's that stressful to do that ?

    Every time some data suggesting that wireless technology might be harmful to human health appears I see a bunch of geeks jumping in and screaming about how stupid that is. It looks almost irrational, almost like they wish it not to be harmful, even though they reckon it might be.

  • Re:Wow ... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Iceykitsune ( 1059892 ) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (32nomevets)> on Monday March 28, 2011 @11:53AM (#35640456)

    Why not click on the link in the article then?

    You must be new here - on slashdot, links to the article go unused as no one reads TFA.

    If no-one uses the article links, than how do web pages get "slashdotted"?

  • by ledow ( 319597 ) on Monday March 28, 2011 @11:59AM (#35640534) Homepage

    Not ignorance - I honestly just don't care enough, having reviewed the evidence thoroughly in the days of "mobile phones will fry your brain", especially as I work in schools where we were deploying Wifi and the parents were protesting against a mobile phone mast being built nearby too.

    My initial instinct when I first heard things like this years ago, fresh out of uni, as someone of a scientific mind? They were idiots. My conclusion then, after lots of personal research? They were idiots. My conclusion now? They're still idiots. My conclusion for the forseeable future? Almost certainly still idiots but I bet we do eventually find lots of things that "are affected" but in such minor ways that I'll spend more time worrying about whether I should blow my nose or not.

    Science, observed recordings, and centuries of studies tell me that EM radiation in the frequencies and powers observed does nothing to my body that's even close to being measurably, statistically and practically significant or detrimental over the timescales discussed, and considered against any other number of reasonable factors that you could easily remove. The bacteria that live in my shoes pose orders of magnitude greater risk to my health every day.

    And I'm not a phone junkie. I get one or two calls a day, about five minutes each, and rarely dial out (I have an office phone and a home phone, why bother using the mobile?). But the mobile stays on me, powered on, all day to fulfil its primary purpose - so I have something on my person that can make a phone call in an emergency. Just turning the damn thing off would be an infinitely better solution for myself (because I only care about outgoing calls) but it's just not worth the effort because the risk is so statistically insignificant. I'd be more worried about the extra weight on my hip, to be honest, and that's such a minor thing compared to my upper body weight.

    If I put it anywhere else, I will lose it - I don't have shirt pockets and I'd end up leaving it in there, my trouser (pant) pockets also contain other "take everywhere" essentials - keys, money, cards (the invisible finger-grime on my cards is more a hazard to me, and the keys are a greater risk of causing me injury, especially if I just shove them in my pocket and then sit down). And the risk from the phone is so negligible as to not warrant changing a habit.

    Some people REALLY have a problem estimating risk. That's their problem. Personally, my phone stays. Similarly, I see no reason to not live inside a ring-main wired house, as I do. All that electricity pumping around me all day, emitting EM for no reason! If I treat a hip-phone as a significant risk, I have to treat everything with that same risk or more in the same way too, and that would make my life infinitely more complicated to the point that it would be unlivable.

    But I have a life. One with infinitely more risks (which are much more significant, likely and detrimental) than what a bit of EM might do to my hipbone over the course of my lifetime. Hell, technically I walk through EM fields dozens of times a day - they're called "Oyster readers" on the London Underground and/or shop theft detectors.

    The point is - people who *KNOW* and calculate the risks are telling you that it's really not worth worrying about and hasn't been, for pretty much forever. Thus every scaremongering story about radiation, EM or how we're all going to hell if we don't believe is subject to criticism.

    It's probably slightly less "damaging" to have my phone an inch away. But having it where it is is already so "undamaging" that I just don't care. It really makes that little difference that's it not worth worrying about.

MESSAGE ACKNOWLEDGED -- The Pershing II missiles have been launched.