Mobile Phone Health Scares Go Beyond Brain Tumors

January 7, 2011
Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS

Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS

Award-winning nutritionist and New York Times bestselling author.

d0002969A rise in rare tumors parallels greater mobile phone use.

The debate over cell phone use just took a dramatic turn. Researchers at Hebrew University in Jerusalem have found that cases of cancerous or benign parotid gland tumors—the parotid (or salivary) gland being the gland located closest to where people hold their phones—have quadrupled since 1970. The greatest rise was since 2001, just when cell phone use skyrocketed in Israel.

This evidence flies in the face of arguments that there has been no increase in tumors since cell phones became popular. And a new study in Epidemiology shows that over time there’s been a substantial increase of cancerous parotid gland cases—there was 44 per year before 2001 and 72 per year after. Research reports no increase in cancer cases in two other types of parotid glands further away from where we hold our cell phones.

The new findings confirm earlier evidence linking heavy cell phone use with “significantly elevated risks” for salivary gland tumors. And even more important, work in Sweden shows that design flaws in the Interphone Study have led to underestimated risks for brain tumors from mobile phone use.

These design flaws include problems with the way the data was collected and the accuracy of recall from study patients about their specific cell phone use. In addition, the cell phone industry itself provided a portion of the funding—raising an eyebrow of bias. Either way, the potential outcomes from underestimating these risks are concerning.

It Happened to Me
It was my own (thankfully benign) parotid gland tumor that convinced me to delve more deeply into the research on electropollution. Sadly, I’m not alone. Celebrities like Roger Ebert, Lebron James, and Adam Yaugh of the Beastie Boys have all had parotid gland tumors. And during his battle with cancer, John McCain had his lymph nodes and—as a precaution—part of his left parotid gland removed.

Shown in my latest book Zapped, it’s not just cell phones, but also cordless phones, PDAs, antennae, microwaves, satellite TVs and radios, and WiFi that are wreaking havoc with our health today.

As my research discovered, rare salivary gland and brain tumors aren’t the only risks from 24/7 exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMFs) generated by these devices. EMFs produce subliminal stress that the human body doesn’t recognize.

This “stealth stress” raises blood pressure, impacts blood sugar levels, and raises stress hormone (cortisol) levels, making it hard to get a good night’s sleep.

Studies show that exposure to cell phones and certain electrical systems lower production of thyroid hormones. And this can cause depression, fatigue, joint pain, low heart rate, muscle aches, and weight gain. EMFs can even elevate bad cholesterol levels, increasing your risk for heart disease.

Electropollution also damages fertility, impacting sperm count, motility, and viability. It’s critical that pregnant women reduce their exposure to cell phones and other EMFs, which have been linked to miscarriage as well as later developmental and emotional problems in their children.

That goes for children of any age, too. Because of their smaller size and developing brains, kids are especially vulnerable. While mobile phone radiation reaches a relatively small portion of an adult’s brain, EMFs penetrate most of a child’s brain.

And younger people will be exposed to electropollution for much longer than adults. In the Hebrew University study 20% of the incidences of parotid gland tumors occurred in people under 20 years of age!

Forewarned Is Forearmed
As a former cell phone addict, I’ve learned to wean myself a great deal from my own digital and wireless devices—but I know that’s not easy or possible for many people. That’s why rather than fear mongering, Zapped offers many realistic and simple things you can do to protect yourself and your family from this new invisible form of pollution.

For starters, here are a few simple tips:

• Text, rather than talk, whenever feasible.
• Use speaker mode with both cell and cordless phones, and use a landline at home and work.
• Reduce your total wireless exposure, turning off your router at night and using a wired mouse.
• Don’t put your laptop in your lap, and use “grounding” or Earthing pads under your computer to protect your body from a buildup of electrical charges.
• Don’t use your phones when reception is poor (in elevators, subways, and trains) since it has to power up even more to get a signal to the tower, and turn them off when you’re not using them.
• Limit children’s cell/cordless phone use to emergencies, and consider following the dictates of European countries that restrict the use of cell phones to people 18 years of age or older.

Zap-Proof Nutrition
As a nutritionist, I’ve discovered a number of foods and supplements that can help lessen damage from electropollution. My favorite is artichokes—with an antioxidant capacity that earned the number one spot on the USDA’s vegetable list. The stand-out component in this vegetable for EMF protection is silymarin, which is ten times as potent an antioxidant as vitamin E. This all-star increases the body’s production of glutathione and SOD—the liver’s premier antioxidant and key enzyme diminished by EMF exposure.

If you have trouble getting to sleep or staying asleep all night—one of the early symptoms of electropollution—consider at least 3 mgs of Melatonin. This antioxidant hormone is five times more powerful than vitamin C, and regulates the sleep-wake cycle. Dozens of studies show that EMFs can lower the body’s production of this hormone that bolsters the immune system, which gets tamped down by electropollution, and has been found to help fight cancer.

I recommend that everyone, particularly those over 60, take one capsule of Melatonin in a time-release formula at bedtime for a good night’s sleep and EMF protection. This supplement also contains zap-proof minerals—manganese, selenium, and zinc—for added antioxidant protection.

Also, make sure that you and your kids get sufficient amounts of vitamin D, another all-star EMF protector—most Americans don’t. Calcitrol, the active form of vitamin D3, is a terrific radioprotectant, even against low-level background radiation. It helps facilitate communications between the cells, which is interrupted by electropollution, and activates the immune system.

Adults can take one to two capsules daily of Vitamin D-5000, containing vitamin D3. And make sure your children get calcitrol (or D3) in their multis.

Zapped: Why Your Cell Phone Shouldn’t Be Your Alarm Clock and 1,268 Ways to Outsmart the Hazards of Electronic Pollution

Related Articles and Podcasts

Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS, is an award-winning New York Times bestselling author of more than thirty books including The Fat Flush Plan series and her latest book, Radical Metabolism. She’s been rewriting the rules of nutrition for more than 40 years and is internationally recognized as a pioneer in the field of diet, detox and women’s health issues. 

For a FREE daily dose of tips and strategies for maintaining healthy weight, conquering insomnia, and much more…check out my Radical Health Tips.

I’d like to meet and greet you on my Facebook groups, so won’t you check us out at the Radical Metabolism RevolutionFat Flush Nation, or my Inner Circle!


  1. Donnie

    Cell phones, WiFi, cordless digital phones and other devices, are likely to cause severe interference in many hearing aids. With a lot of loud buzzing and so much sound distortion, that a hearing aid user can not understand what people are saying. I don’t use a cell phone, but if I am within a few feet of other people who are carrying a cell phone, my hearing aid distorts so bad that it is totally useless for me. Can you please research this, and report on it in your newsletter. This is a problem that has been known all along, by the FCC, and the makers of hearing aids and cell phones. But, nothing is being done to remedy the situation. Hard of hearing people are SOL, if they need to use a hearing aid, and it is wiped out by other people’s cell phones.

  2. Amy D.

    I, too, had a parotid gland tumor (benign…phew) removed in May 2009, and learned shortly thereafter that Lebron James was having the same surgery. I’d never even HEARD of the parotid gland until diagnosed! My surgeons provided no explanation of WHY this tumor had developed. I’m intrigued by the idea that my cell phone may have been the culprit. While it’s hard to say if the phone truly was the cause, I am definitely going to limit my use of and exposure to the phone and other wireless devices!

  3. Camilla Rees

    Ann Louise Gittleman is well credentialed to educate on the role for antioxidants, minerals and other supplements in a multi-pronged wellness strategy to negate effects of our toxic world, and help people build physiological resilience in light of the health eroding effects of electromagnetic fields. Electromagnetic fields are biologically active. They create oxidative damage, mitochondrial dysfunction, decrease melatonin, increase blood viscosity, create changes in hypothalamic regulation and cerebral blood flow, increase cortisol and adrenaline, and decrease neurotransmitters, etc. The result is there is tremendous imbalance being created in the body, and, just as with all other sources of imbalance, sound nutritional status can be important in mitigating the effects. Nutrition is one of the angles from which we can support stability and harmony within the body, and education on this topic is especially important in the wireless world today.

    In case you are not aware of the great concern of doctors and scientists about the proliferation of electromagnetic fields, I am enclosing the following quotes from a recent event in New York. In addition, I recommend you read the new research from Harvard Medical School associating EMFs with autism, an epidemic that has grown to effect 1/50 children. This is a disgrace. We need to be encouraging the leading voices in health, like Ann Louise Gittleman, who are the Paul Revere’s of this generation, attempting the share the credible science on a topic that is impacting us all, that will impact future generations, and that possibly may because of DNA effects cause the great demise of our species. Listen up, and learn, before you speak on a subject as important as this. Thank you.

    Quotes from Leading Environmentally Aware Physicians & Scientists:

    “Unlike chemical exposures or mold, with electromagnetic fields there is nothing to see or smell to warn a person there may be harm. Learning to measure electromagnetic fields and to remediate are essential for patients. I am encouraging my patients to attend The Open Center event November 15, 2013 so they can learn ways to create EMF-free home environments and minimize `2nd hand’ wireless radiation exposures.”

    Morton Teich, MD
    Pediatric & Adult Allergy, Immunology
    and Environmental Medicine
    New York, NY

    Electromagnetic fields from cell phones and wireless technologies create disharmony in the body and mind, and should be minimized by people seeking wellness. The radiation is a stressor. The erratic nature of the various frequencies is biologically disruptive, interfering with the natural processes that maintain balance and efficient cellular communication. Diseases and health challenges of many kinds have been linked to the radiation. The constant stimuli of non-stop online communication is also leading to technology addictions, underdeveloped interpersonal skills, shallow and disjointed experiences of life, and even brain damage, such as the stunning new condition, “digital dementia”, in children. I recommend health conscious New Yorkers attend the Open Center’s program November 15, 2013 to learn how to minimize these exposures.”

    Frank Lipman, MD
    Eleven Eleven Wellness Center
    New York, NY

    “The human brain is especially susceptible to numerous environmental insults that can produce irreversible damage during critical periods of nervous system development between conception and full maturity. A number of peer-reviewed studies reported changes in the nervous systems of rats, mice and humans following exposure to cell phone radiation. These include diminished learning, diminished reaction time, decreased motor function, reduced memory accuracy, hyperactivity and diminished cognition.”

    Hugh Taylor, MD
    Chairman, Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology
    And Reproductive Sciences
    Yale University

    “Sensitivity to electromagnetic radiation is the emerging health problem of the 21st century. It is imperative health practitioners, governments, schools and parents learn more about it. The human health stakes are significant”

    William J. Rea, M.D.
    Founder and Director, Environmental Health Center
    Past President, American Academy of Environmental Medicine
    Dallas, TX

    “Electromagnetic pollution is one of the most important health issues of our day, causing acute and chronic health problems in more and more people. Doctors in the NY metropolitan area should attend the upcoming program at the NY Open Center, and learn from experts about this emerging public health issue.”

    Amy Dean, DO, FAAEM
    President, American Academy of Environmental Medicine


    The American Academy of Pediatrics “urges the FCC to adopt radiation standards” that 1) protect children’s health and well-being from radiation emitted by cell phones and other wireless devices; 2) reflect how people actually use their cell phones; and 3) provide sufficient information that enables consumers to make informed decisions when they purchase mobile phones.

    American Academy of Pediatrics


    “Cells in the body react to EMFs as potentially harmful, just like to other environmental toxins, including heavy metals and toxic chemicals. The DNA in living cells recognizes electromagnetic fields at very low levels of exposure; and produces a biochemical stress response. The scientific evidence tells us that our safety standards are inadequate, and that we must protect ourselves from exposure to EMF due to power lines, cell phones and the like, or risk the known consequences. The science is very strong and we should sit up and pay attention.”

    Martin Blank, PhD
    Columbia University
    Special Lecturer and Retired Associate Professor, Department of Physiology and Cellular Biophysics, Columbia University, College of Physicians and Surgeons; Researcher in Bioelectromagnetics; Author of the BioInitiative Report’s section on Stress Proteins, Editor of the special issue of the journal Pathophysiology on electromagnetic fields, and past President of the Bioelectromagnetics Society.


    “The scientific evidence is sufficiently robust showing that cellular devices pose significant health risks to children and pregnant women…The weight of the evidence supports stronger precautionary regulation by the federal government…The cellular industry should take immediate steps to reduce emission of electromagnetic radiation (EMR) from phones and avoid marketing their products to children.”

    John Wargo, PhD
    Professor, Environmental Risk and Policy
    Yale University

    “There is no question EMFs have a major effect on neurological functioning. They slow our brain waves and affect our long-term mental clarity. We should minimize exposures as much as possible to optimize neurotransmitter levels and prevent deterioration of health”.

    Eric Braverman, MD
    Brain researcher, Author of The Edge Effect and
    Director, Path Medical, New York, NY

    “Our recent 4-year monitoring of effects from cell phone radiation on children, demonstrates an increase in phonemic perception disorders, abatement of efficiency, reduced indicators for the arbitrary and semantic memory, and increased fatigue. Over the four-year monitoring of 196 children ages 7-12 who were users of mobile communication devices, a steady decline in these parameters from high values to bottom standards, compared to controls, was observed.

    Professor Yury Grigoriev
    Chairman of Russian National Committee on Non-Ionizing
    Radiation Protection, a member of the WHO’s International
    Advisory Committee on “EMF and Health”


    “The number of children being diagnosed with autism doubles every 5 years now. We have an epidemic of chronic infections and chronic neurological illnesses, like Parkinson’s, MS, ALS, autism, learning disabilities in children, behavioral problems in children-its all exploding exponentially and the only thing that parallels this growth is growth in exposures to cell phone radiation, the tetra network police are using, the new radiating smart meters and the wide range of wireless devices in the home today, such as wireless computers, portable phones and tablets, but also home appliances.”

    Dietrich Klinghardt, MD, PhD
    Sophia Health Institute
    Seattle, WA

    “Current US and ICNIRP standards for radiofrequency and microwave radiation from wireless technologies are entirely inadequate. They never were intended to address the kind of exposures from wireless devices that now affect over 4 billion people.” Watch full Seletun Scientific Statement by Dr. Johansson here:

    Olle Johansson, PhD
    Department of Neuroscience
    Karolinska Institute


    “The research we reviewed and subsequent research strongly suggest that the current standards for cell phone radiation are not adequate to protect us from health risks associated with exposure to cell phone radiation… A 31-member group of experts convened by the World Health Organization agreed with our conclusions and classified cell phone radiation a “possible carcinogen”…We need more research that is independent of the wireless industry’s influence. The Federal government needs to sponsor a major research initiative on the health effects of electromagnetic radiation.”

    Joel Moskowitz, PhD
    Center for Family and Community Health
    University of California, Berkeley



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