The recent findings of an expert panel that concluded cellphone use might cause cancer were met locally with light incredulity, moderate acceptance and an easy sense of humor.
“Everything gives you cancer, basically,” Albany resident Lisa Cox joked, as she treated herself to a cone of soft-serve ice cream at Jumpin’ Jacks in Scotia.
In response to the review by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer, which suggested there could be some risks for cancer with heavy use of cellphones, Cox wondered how much use would put someone in danger. She hypothesized that only extreme use could be dangerous and argued that moderate use was probably safe.
Self-described “worrywart” Brady Walsh, 18, of Glenville, acknowledged that the potential dangers of cellphones has been on his mind in the past. “I think about it,” he said, “but it has never occurred to me to get it away from my head.”
Walsh and friend Jake Ferretti both noted they don’t use their cellphones much for talking — the phones are usually in their hands. Because they use smart phones, they mostly send text messages or use social applications.
Ferretti, 18, of Glenville, said people he knows don’t talk about the threat of cancer. “It’s not really a topic of conversation,” he said. “It’s usually brought up as a joke.”
For his part, Ferretti was reluctant to embrace any precautionary measures with his cellphone, such as turning it off while in his pocket. He argued that those measures felt like too big of a response, especially for a problem that is basically unproven at this point.
“I think it should be looked into, but it’s not something I’m worried about imminently,” Ferretti said, while noting that some people will never be satisfied on the topic. “With some people it’s less about finding out what’s true and more about finding out that they’re right.”
The danger of heavy cellphone use was something Lauren Selmon of Albany already took for granted. She said it was her understanding that people might be at risk if their cellphone was basically attached to their head all day long. Because of that, Selmon felt her use, which consisted mostly of sending text messages, wouldn’t put her at risk.
If additional studies began to emphasize the connection between certain types of cancer and cellphone use, Selmon predicted she would begin to re-examine her feelings on the issue. A change wouldn’t come lightly, she added.
“I’m not one to listen to one quack study and take that as law,” Selmon said. “Every study has their own slants, and everybody has their own reasons for reporting certain statistics.”
Over at Union College, where dozens of students could be seen traversing campus with cellphones in hand or by their ears, junior Ajay Major concluded that a correlation between cancer and cellphone use was pretty clear. He said a case study was bound to discover a relationship eventually, so the latest news didn’t surprise him.
Major said his cellphone is an integral part of his life, so he can only hope to minimize his exposure. That didn’t include using the phone’s speaker function, which Major sheepishly admitted could be part of minimizing his risk for cancer.
Even though Union College senior Dylan Hawkins uses a speaker phone when it is appropriate and is aware of studies loosely linking cellphones and cancer, he argues it can’t be a pre-eminent concern. “There are a lot more threats that are a lot more imminent than the long-term threats of cellphone use,” Hawkins said.
Even if the most recent study is the start of a series of revelations about cellphones, Hawkins said people are too invested in a lifestyle with cellphones to make any changes. “I think people are way too attached to technology at this point to want to accept or believe there is a danger,” Hawkins said.
Categories: Schenectady County