What’s the last thing you do before turning in for the night? Unlike the generations before us that read books, or simply turned out the light and dozed off, most of us take to our phones to browse social media, play games, or engage with some other application on our smartphone device before falling asleep.
Smart devices are relatively new inventions and researchers are constantly examining their effects on our health and wellbeing. Unfortunately, the findings are not positive.
There are three main reasons why people are concerned that smart devices (also known as “mobile” or “wireless” telephones) might have the potential to cause certain types of cancer or other health problems:
Cell phones emit radio-frequency energy (radio waves), a form of non-ionizing radiation, from their antennas. Tissues nearest to the antenna can absorb this energy. Apparently, the blue light emitted by phones at night causes various severe health problems. “Blue light is part of the full light spectrum, which means we’re exposed to it by the sun every day. However, nighttime exposure to that light, which is emitted at high levels by smartphones, tablets, laptops, and other LED screens, may be damaging your vision. It also suppresses production of the hormone melatonin, which throws off your body’s natural sleep cues.”
The number of cell phone users has increased rapidly. As of December 2014, there were more than 327.5 million cell phone subscribers in the United States, according to the Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association. This is a nearly threefold increase from the 110 million users in 2000. Globally, the number of subscriptions is estimated by the International Telecommunications Union to be 5 billion by 2018.
Over time, the number of cell phone calls per day, the length of each call, and the amount of time people use cell phones have increased. However, improvements in cell phone technology have resulted in devices that have lower power outputs than earlier models.
Scientists have found that smart devices are linked to the following three health issues:
1. Increased cancer risk
Increased light at night leads to disturbed sleep, and this raises the cancer risk, especially breasts and prostate cancer.
Melatonin is a potent antioxidant and is a natural weapon of the body against cancer, but it is suppressed by “blue light”. If this happens once, it might not be a huge health issue, but continued use of smartphones at bedtime causes severe health problems.
2. Sleep Loss
“Blue light” disrupts the production of melatonin, as mentioned above, and this hormone regulates the sleeping cycle of the body. If the body lacks sleep, the skewed sleeping cycle will lead to multiple health issues:
Lack of Memory Recall
Slower Response Time
3. The exposure to “blue light” at night leads to damage to the retina and macular degeneration, which is the loss of central vision, or the ability to see in front of you, as well as cataracts.
One doctor maintains that he has a 35-year old patient with cataract-affected eyes similar to that of a 75-year-old, and that the main cause is the use of his smartphone before going to sleep, though this needs to be researched further.
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