Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Killer Cell Phones?

So these four Swedish guys (and one guy from Berkeley) are saying that using cell phones a lot for a long time increases your risk of getting brain cancer by 20-30% (here's the link to the paper).

They're probably wrong, but let's assume they're right. Does that mean your iPhone is gonna kill you in ten years?

Probably not. Imagine 100,000 people-- say two pro football stadiums chock-full of people, or three towns the size of Amherst. About 8 of them will get brain cancer per year.

So the study says that if all those 100,000 people use cell phones for an hour or more a day for, like, a decade, then two or three more will get brain cancer. Or, to think about it another way-- if you use your cell phone a lot, the Swedish guys think it has a 1 in 50,000 chance per year of giving you cancer.

But according to some British guy, using a cell phone when you're driving makes you four times (400% !) more likely to crash. Assuming those heavy cell phone users are on their phones half the time they're driving:

100,000 non-cell-phone folks: 15 will die in car accidents. 8 will die from brain cancer.
100,000 cell-phone maniacs: 30 will die in car accidents. 10 will die from brain cancer.

I don't use my cell phone much, but if I did, I wouldn't worry about getting brain cancer-- the risk is pretty darn small. You should be a lot more worried about talking on your cell phone while driving and killing yourself or an innocent bystander...

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