Wednesday February 20, 2019

Smartphone myths busted: It won’t give you brain cancer

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New Delhi: Smartphone users can take a deep breath now. All the studies claiming that the radiation emitted from cellphones can cause brain cancer while posing to be hazardous to health have turned into a myth.

According to health experts, radiations emitted from cellphones will not give you brain cancer but, yes, excessive cell phone use can lead to other health conditions, especially among children.

Some time back, the World Health Organisation’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified mobile phone use and other radiofrequency electromagnetic fields as a possible carcinogen but with a rider that there is no research to back the claim.

The study also revealed no evidence of increasing risk with progressively increasing number of calls, longer call time, or years since beginning cellphone use.

“Mobile phones don’t cause cancer or promote the accelerated growth of existing tumors. Although there have been some concerns that radiofrequency energy from cell phones held closely to the head may affect the brain and other tissues, but to date, there is no evidence from studies of cells, animals, or humans that radiofrequency energy can cause cancer,” explained Dr Indu Bansal Aggarwal, senior consultant (oncology) at Paras Hospitals.

Radiofrequency energy emanating from cellphones is a form of electromagnetic radiation that is non-ionizing.

No study or research about cancer has proved that non-ionising radiation causes cancer. If someone speaks on a mobile phone for a long time, it generates heat.

“The only known biological effect of radiofrequency energy is heating. Radiofrequency exposure from cellphone use does cause heating; however, it is not sufficient to measurably increase body temperature,” added Dr S Hukku, director (radiation oncology) at the BLK Super Specialty Hospital in the capital.

But when it comes to the excessive use of cellphones, there are health conditions that can affect people.

According to a report by networking giant Cisco, the number of mobile users in India is projected to grow 4.4 percent to 990.2 million by 2020 – covering about 71 percent of the country’s population.

Smartphone addiction can reduce melatonin hormone levels, which may lead to neuro-degenerative diseases later in life. Melatonin is a hormone secreted by the pineal gland in the brain which helps regulate other hormones and maintains the body’s circadian rhythm.

“Impaired concentration, eye problems, increased stress and chronic pain, negative effect on emotions, heart disorders, decreased sperm count and decreased hearing are some major health issues arising out of the excessive use of cell phone,” Aggarwal said.

As for children, scientists have discovered that a mere two-minutes phone call can alter the electoral activity of their brain for up to an hour.

“The disturbed brain activity could impair children’s learning ability and lead to other behavioral problems,” Aggarwal told reporters.

To avoid this, keep phone calls short, use air tube headset for calls, avoid using a cellphone in an enclosed metal space such as an elevator and do not keep the mobile phone close to the body when switched on.

“Do not place your smartphone under a pillow and avoid calls when the signal strength is low to reduce the impact of cell phone radiation on health,” Hukku suggested.

Above all, spend some time with your family where the smartphone is not an invitee! (Somrita Ghosh, IANS)

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Usage of Smartphones for Eye Check-up May Lead to Misdiagnosis

However, when the images were calibrated, the differences between lighting levels and camera types were significantly minimalised - with differences between smartphones reduced by approximately 30 per cent

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Using smartphones to capture photographs of patients’ eyes for check-up may lead to misdiagnosis as camera colour sensors vary and as a result, images of the same eye may appear different depending on the model of smartphone used, warn researchers.

The study, published in the journal Scientific Reports, suggests that calibration of phone cameras is vital to capture accurate data.

Eye examinations to look for redness in the eye can indicate a variety of conditions including conjunctivitis, dry-eye disease and tear-gland dysfunction.

Clinicians increasingly use smartphones in conjunction with ophthalmic imaging equipment, such as the eyepiece of a slit lamp, because of their portability, ease of use and relatively low cost.

The connectivity also allows for upload to the Cloud, which is useful for telemedicine – the remote diagnosis and treatment of patients using telecommunications technology – and Artificial Intelligence applications that store thousands of images from different institutions.

However, the autofocus algorithms and hardware specifications of cameras may be different for different manufacturers which means different cameras can produce different results for the same scene.

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Low carb diet can maintain eyesight. Pixabay

“It is important that clinicians bear this in mind,” said lead study author Carles Otero from Anglia Ruskin University in England.

For the study, the researchers took 192 images of eyes using three smartphone cameras, two different lighting levels and two zoom levels.

The images were duplicated and one set was white balanced and colour corrected (calibrated) and the other left unaltered.

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The researchers took photographs in autofocus mode with the iPhone 6s, the Google Nexus 6p and the Bq Aquaris U Lite, and found that the iPhone results were significantly different from the other two devices, when computing relative redness of each eye, and when compared to a clinician’s diagnosis.

However, when the images were calibrated, the differences between lighting levels and camera types were significantly minimalised – with differences between smartphones reduced by approximately 30 per cent.

“Our results show that while the clinician’s subjective evaluation was not affected by different cameras, lighting conditions or optical magnifications, calibration of a smartphone’s camera is essential when extracting objective data from images,” Otero said. (IANS)