Cancer: An Overview of the Diseases – Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

What is Cancer?
Cancer is a word used for more than 100 diseases. The subject of cancer is extremely vast. Each type of cancer is different and varies greatly to each other. This article will focus on cancer in general, and will not describe one kind of cancer in much detail. To fully comprehend the word, there needs to be some dissection of the human cell. Each cell contains deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) which is genetic material that makes up all humans.

Cancer Loss of Normal Growth

Normal cells divide to create new cells and eventually die when they are not needed anymore. Cancer cells do not die; they continue to grow, and form abnormal cells that invade other tissues in the body. The body doesn’t need these cancer cells. The DNA in these cancer cells are damaged due to an injury or the environment, thus any cells created onward from these cells will be flawed as well. A mass is formed from the cancer cells called a tumor.
Malignant VS Benign

Cancer cells can spread to other parts of the body through the blood stream. More tumors can grow as a result of this migration. Tumors can crowd normal tissues in the body. Tumors are not cancerous by definition. Some tumors are benign and some are malignant.  Benign tumors can grow and cause minor health issues; however they can’t invade other tissues. Malignant tumors are cancerous and invade other tissues. Doctors who specialize in cancer diagnosis and treatment are called oncologists. These physicians work with their patients on a one-on-one basis to create an appropriate plan for treatment (National Cancer Institute, 2014).

Categories of Cancer
The National Cancer Institute (2014) provides a description of the main categories of cancer in the following:

Types of Cancer

  • Carcinoma- cancer that begins in the skin or in tissues that line or cover internal organs. There are a number of subtypes of carcinoma, including adenocarcinoma, basil cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and transitional cell carcinoma.
  • Sarcoma- cancer that begins in bone, cartilage, fat, muscle, blood vessel, or other connective or supportive tissue.
  • Leukemia- cancer that starts in blood-forming tissue such as the bone marrow and causes large numbers of abnormal blood cells to be produced and enter the blood.
  • Lymphoma and myeloma- cancers that begin in the cells of the immune system.
  • Central nervous system cancers- cancers that begin in the tissues of the brain and spinal cord.


Statistics on Cancer
The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2014, the United States will have over a million new cases of cancer and over five hundred thousand deaths. Millions of people survive cancer each year. The number of survivors of cancer has been steadily increasing every year.

Cancer Survivors

Over 13 million people in the United States have been diagnosed with cancer, and lung cancer has been reported with the highest percentage of deaths among both men and women. There are many different types of cancer.  The risk of developing cancer increases with age. Some cancers are more prevalent among certain populations, and some are exclusive to one gender such is the case with Prostate Cancer and men.

Cancer Survivors
Breast Cancer afflicts more than 2 million women in the United States. If Breast Cancer is caught in the early stages, the chances for survival are over 95%. Cancer as a diagnosis doesn’t necessarily mean the person will die from the disease. Millions of people survive from cancer each year (American Cancer Society, 2014).


Causes of Cancer
Cancer can be caused by one or more factors. The American Cancer Society states that the causes of cancer are connected with genetics, tobacco, diet, physical activity, sun exposure, radiation exposure and other carcinogens.

Smoking WomanSome cancers are hereditary due to an abnormal gene mutation being passed down from parent to child. Up to one-tenth of all cancers are inherited. Smoking cigarettes/cigars are very dangerous and can be detrimental to a person’s health. Smoking cigarettes has been proven to cause different types of cancer such as lung, oral, and esophageal cancer.
Cancer and Exercise
There is a link between diet and physical activity and cancer. Poor diet and lack of regular physical activity increases the chances of developing the disease. Research studies show that aerobic exercise and weight training boosts the immune system in cancer survivors and lowers the risk of cancer.

20 Cancer Fighting Foods

Research has recently shown these foods to be effective in fighting cancer.

Over 33% of deaths from cancer are related to poor diet (American Cancer Society, 2014). Diets high in trans fats can increase the risk of cancer.  See our article “What is Good Fat?” and “20 Cancer-Fighting Foods.”   Recent studies have shown that increasing acidity and lowering cancer cell pH (increasing acidity) is effective against cancer cell mitosis in the laboratory studies.

Extensive lifetime exposure to UV rays in sunlight can lead to Skin Cancers such as basil cell and melanoma cell cancers. Radiation exposure agents include x-rays and gamma rays. The Radiation Emergency Assistance Center/Training Site (2014) describes the characteristics of x-rays and gammas rays as “electromagnetic radiation like visible light, radio waves, and ultraviolet light”. High and frequent exposure to these agents causes cancer. People who work in nuclear power plants have a greater risk of developing cancer cells than those working in regular office buildings. Small amounts of these agents can be found in medical imaging tests and other sources. Carcinogens or environmental factors leading to cancer provided by the American Cancer Society include:

  • Lifestyle factors (nutrition, tobacco use, physical activity, etc.)
  • Naturally occurring exposures (ultraviolet light, radon gas, infectious agents, etc.)
  • Medical treatments (chemotherapy, radiation, immune system-suppressing drugs, etc.)
  • Workplace exposures
  • Household exposures
  • Pollution

Symptoms of Cancer
The symptoms of cancer depend on the type of cancer you may have. Mayo Clinic (2014) provides a list of the general symptoms people may exhibit from the diseases.

Cancer SymptomsThe symptoms include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Fatigue
  • Lump or area of thickening that can be felt under the skin
  • Weight changes, including unintended loss or gain
  • Skin changes, such as yellowing, darkening or redness of the skin, sores that won’t heal, or changes to existing moles
  • Changes to bowel or bladder habits
  • Persistent cough
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Hoarseness
  • Persistent indigestion or discomfort after eating
  • Persistent, unexplained muscle or joint pain
  • Persistent, unexplained fevers or night sweats


Diagnosis of Cancer
Physical self-examinations are important preventative measures to diagnosing cancer. If you display one or more of the symptoms expressed in the previous passage, it’s recommended to seek out a physician for a professional opinion. The physician will perform a physical examination of the area in question and take a complete medical history.

Doctor and patient
A biopsy is usually performed by taking a sample of the lump and examining the cells under a microscope. The American Cancer Society (2014) states that other tests that may be performed include: “x-rays, computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), ultrasound, and fiber-optic endoscopy examinations”. If the tests come back positive for cancer cells, more tests need to be performed to determine exactly what kind of cancer is present and in what stage the cancer is in which is process called staging. The National Cancer Institute has created a chart to show how oncologists categories the stage of their patient’s cancer. The Cancer Staging Chart is provided below.

Stage

Definition

Stage 0 Carcinoma in situ (abnormal cells are present only in the layer of cells in which they developed)
Stage I, Stage II, and Stage III Higher numbers indicate more extensive disease: Larger tumor size and/or spread of the cancer beyond the organ in which it first developed to nearby lymph nodes and/or tissues or organs adjacent to the location of the primary tumor
Stage IV The cancer has spread to distant tissues or organs

Chart A: Cancer Staging Chart

 

Treatment of Cancer
Cancer can be treated in many different ways. The traditional methods to treating cancer are surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. New treatments are targeted therapy, immunotherapy, hyperthermia, stem cell transplant, photodynamic therapy, and laser in cancer treatment. Surgery is most often used to get rid of cancer growing inside the body.

Chemo

Chemotherapy is the use of certain Food and Drug Administration Approved or FDA drugs and medicines to combat the cancer. With radiation therapy, a high-energy beam targeted at the site of the cancer is used. In some cases, a combination of these treatments has been proven to be very effective in getting rid of cancer cells (National Cancer Institute, 2014).

 

Complementary/Alternative Treatments of Cancer
Complementary/Alternative treatments have not been proven to cure cancer; however they play an active role in reliving the side-effects of cancer treatments. People who are diagnosed with cancer sometimes choose other methods for a variety of reasons.

Cancer Patient ExerciseThe National Cancer Institute (2014) describes some of these reasons below:

  • They would like to relieve the side effects of mainstream cancer treatment without having to take more medicine.
  • They are seeking a less unpleasant treatment approach that might have fewer side effects.
  • They want to take an active role in improving their own health and wellness.
  • They prefer alternative theories of health and disease, as well as alternative treatments.

Eating healthy food

In addition to making changes in nutrition, diet and physical exercise, other types of complementary/alternative treatments can help in relieving the side-effects of cancer treatments and in lowering the risk of cancer.   The complementary/alternative treatments are specific to the side-effects that manifest.

The Mayo Clinic (2014) provides a chart to show the most appropriate treatment to try for each side-effect from traditional cancer treatments.

 

If you’re experiencing

Then consider trying

Anxiety Hypnosis, massage, meditation, relaxation techniques
Fatigue Exercise, massage, relaxation techniquesn, yoga
Nausea and vomiting Acupuncture, aromatherapy,hypnosis, music therapy
Pain Acupuncture, aromatherapy,hypnosis,  biofeedback, massage music therapy
Sleep problems Exercise relaxation techniquesn, yoga
Stress Aromatherapyhypnosis, massage, meditation,exercise, tai chi, yoga

Chart B: Alternative Treatment Chart

 

 

References
American Cancer Society. (2014). Understanding Cancer. Cancer Basics. Retrieved October 16, 2014, from http://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancerbasics/index

Guidance for Radiation Accident Management. (2014). Characteristics of Gamma Radiation and X-Rays. Basics of Radiation. Retrieved October 17, 2014, from https://orise.orau.gov/reacts/guide/gamma.htm

Mayo Clinic. (2014). Definition. Cancer. Retrieved October 18, 2014, from http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/cancer/basics/definition/con-20032378

National Cancer Institute. (2014). Defining Cancer. What is Cancer?. Retrieved October 18, 2014, from http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/cancerlibrary/what-is-cancer

 

__________________________________________________

This articleHang Pham, MBHA Health Educator is written by Hang Pham. Hang Pham is a Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance Health and Wellness Educator. Hang Pham was born in Hoc Mon, Vietnam. She came to America in 1994, becoming a U.S. citizen in 2011. Hang graduated from Seaside High School with diploma and received her AA in General Studies from Monterey Peninsula College in 2011. She received her BA in Collaborative Health and Human Services from California State University Monterey Bay (CSUMB) in 2012. In addition to working as a volunteer staff with the Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance, she currently works as a Clerical Aid in the Human Resources Department of Salinas City Hall. The Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance is a registered 501 (c) 3 nonprofit health and wellness education organization. For more information about the Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance contact us or visit our website at www.montereybayholistic.com.


Disclaimer:  
The Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance is a charitable, independent registered nonprofit 501(c)3 organization and does not endorse any particular products or practices. We exist as an educational organization dedicated to providing free access to health education resources, products and services. Claims and statements herein are for informational purposes only and have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The statements about organizations, practitioners, methods of treatment, and products listed on this website are not meant to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. This information is intended for educational purposes only. The MBHA strongly recommends that you seek out your trusted medical doctor or practitioner for diagnosis and treatment of any existing health condition.

Advertisements

Multiple Chemical and Environmental Sensitivities – Surviving in a Toxic World

Allergy mask

Triggered by air, food, and environmental toxins, new diagnoses are being considered as the root cause of chronic disease.  – istockphoto

WHAT IS IT?
Multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS), “environmental illness,” “environmental sensitivity,” or “idiopathic environmental intolerance” (IEI), each refer to a variety of symptoms experienced by people after exposure to chemical, biologic, or physical substances.

In 1996 the World Health Organization proposed using the phrase “idiopathic environmental intolerance” (IEI) instead of MCS, because many people attribute symptoms to environmental agents other than chemicals, such as food or electromagnetic forces. MCS or IEI is fairly common in the United States.

MCS IntolerancesCigarette smoke, food colorings, alcohol, paint, pesticides, gasoline, plastics, car exhaust fumes, shampoos, caffeine, turpentine, new carpeting, bleach, chemical food additives,  household cleaners, fragrances, and newspaper ink are some of the most commonly reported triggers.  These common triggers  cause severe, debilitating reactions in a MCS/IEI patient whereas the average person might be mildly affected by these products or environmental conditions.  Statistical studies show that 16% of people in California and New Mexico report that their IEI or MCS symptoms severely limit their ability to function on a daily basis.  Some are unable to leave their homes because of the possibility of having a severe asthmatic reaction to someone wearing perfume in an elevator or at a movie theater, for example.  Some cannot live in an apartment complex because of the gas heat, or because of neighbors who smoke cigarettes. Some are never unable to open their windows because of car exhaust or the gas fumes from neighborhood lawn mowers.  Some cannot ever eat food prepared in public restaurants or packaged foods due to chemical food additives, resulting severe symptoms such as fainting or vomiting.  This can lead to isolation and depression. Many have multiple combinations of environmental sensitivities, dramatically limiting their abilities to function.


WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?

The symptoms of  MCS/IEI vary from patient to patient but the most common symptoms are respiratory distress, dizziness, gastrointestinal problems, joint pain, fatigue and severe headache.

MCS What is It?
People who suffer with MCS/IEI often report having several of the following symptoms:

  1.     burning eyes
  2.     wheezing, breathlessness
  3.     extreme fatigue/lethargy
  4.     headache/migraine
  5.     nausea, upset stomach
  6.     vertigo/dizziness
  7.     fainting
  8.     seizures
  9.     memory problems
  10.     runny nose (rhinitis)
  11.     sore throat
  12.     chronic cough
  13.     sinusitis
  14.     inflammation
  15.     skin rashes and or itching skin
  16.     sensitivity to light & noise
  17.     sensitivity and pain with heat or cold
  18.     insomnia or sleeping disorders
  19.     diarrhea or constipation
  20.     bloating
  21.     sweating profusely or uncontrollable chills
  22.     food sensitivities and/or irritable bowel syndrome
  23.     muscle & joint pain
  24.     trouble concentrating, foggy-headed

young man allergiesWHO IS MOST LIKELY TO EXPERIENCE MCS/IEI?
MCS/IEI can affect people of all ages. There appears to be a link between fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome patients and MCS/IEI patients.  MCS/IEI patients and ME/CFS/CFIDS/PVFS (myalgic encephalomyelitis – chronic fatigue) patients have very similar symptoms.  Because the symptoms are so similar, it is not easy for doctors to make an accurate diagnosis. When surveying a general population of people with CFS, it was determined that 14% of MCS patients also had CFS and 41% of CFS patients met criteria for MCS diagnosis.

People with a history of allergies, sinusitis, or food intolerances or sensitivities are more likely to experience MCS/IEI.   Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) patients also report worsening of allergies when exposed to chemicals and environmental triggers.  This may be related to a CFS/MCS/IEI diagnosis.

Research studies show that Veterans of the Persian Gulf War and people diagnosed with Gulf War illnesses (GWI) report chemical sensitivities at a three-times higher rate than civilians or veterans who did not participate in the Gulf War, or non-deployed veterans. Those who were profoundly affected by hurricane Katrina and other natural disasters, also reported to have MCS/IEI symptoms.  There may be a connection between post-traumatic stress disorder and MCS/IEI.

WHAT IS THE CAUSE OF MCS/IEI?
Toxic factory SmokeThe cause of MCS/IEI is yet to be determined.  Some believe that it is the result of an incident which resulted in toxic exposure from one particular source, and developed into what is known as “spreading.”  “Spreading” is a phenomenon where the body becomes sensitive to other chemicals as a result of exposure to one chemical. This phenomenon is characteristic of  veterans who have MCS/IEI and also diagnosed with Gulf War illness, or others who have had a traumatic event in their lives.

It is also believed that the MCS/IEI reaction can be a result of long-term exposure to toxic chemicals, such as those who work factories or live in heavily polluted city environments. It is also a possibility that MCS/IEI is a psychological reaction  rather than a biochemical reaction although the symptoms can be quite debilitating, often resulting in the person living a completely isolated lifestyle. It is also possible that MCS/IEI is an autoimmune disorder. More research is needed to determine the cause.

Some researchers believe that MCS/IEI is a misdiagnosis for another disorder. More than half of 54 people from one MCS study were mistakenly diagnosed with MCS, and instead were determined to have a somatoform disorder or panic disorder. Migraine, anxiety disorder, lupus, postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome or other forms of orthostatic intolerance, hay fever and other allergies, hypercalcemia, hypothyroidism, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, or mast cell activation diseases such as mastocytosis, or any disease or condition where symptoms can be triggered by environmental toxins, chemicals or inhalants, could be possible reasons for a MCS/IEI misdiagnosis.

MCS Diagnosis

DIAGNOSIS OF MCS/IEI
The definition of MCS /IEI was established by researchers and clinicians in 1999.   Specific symptoms are not listed in the criteria, however respiratory symptoms, gastrointestinal symptoms, fatigue, weakness,  and headaches are most common. The following six criteria must be present for a person to be diagnosed with MCS/IEI:

  1. The symptoms are reproducible with repeated exposure to the same chemical.
  2. The condition is chronic.
  3. Low levels of exposure (lower than previously or commonly tolerated) result in manifestations of the syndrome.
  4. The symptoms improve or resolve when the incitants (irritating agent such as a virus, bacterium, prion, gas, or fungus) are removed.
  5. Responses occur to multiple chemically unrelated substances.
  6. Symptoms involve multiple organ systems (most commonly the neurological, immune, respiratory, skin,    gastrointestinal and musculoskeletal).

Chemical Sensitive ShopperCONTROVERSY ABOUT MCS/IEI
The International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD), maintained by the World Health Organization, does not recognize MCS or environmental sensitivity as a valid diagnosis.  The American Medical Association (AMA) has stated that MCS is not recognized as an established organic disease. The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, the California Medical Association, the American College of Physicians, and the International Society of Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology also do not recognize it as a medical diagnosis or disease.

However, In 1997, U.S. Social Security Administration Commissioner John Callahan issued a court memorandum officially recognizing MCS  “as a medically determinable impairment.”  The SSA agrees that some MCS patients are too disabled to be meaningfully employed.

IS MCS/IEI ACCEPTED UNDER THE AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT?
The ADA does not list particular disabilities accepted under the Americans with Disabilities Act, however, some people with MCS/EI will have a disability under the ADA and some will not, depending on the severity of their symptoms. If a person’s MCS/IEI is disabling, then the employer is required by law to make accommodations.  For more information about how to determine whether a person has a disability under the ADA, and suggestions as to how to work with your employer to modify your working environment, visit the Job Accommodations Network.

Man cleaning apartment
TREATMENT
AND LIFESTYLE CHANGES

Lifestyle changes are the primary treatment for most MCS/IEI sufferers. A 2003 survey of 917 MCS patients concluded that the two most effective treatments for MCS  were a chemical-free living space and chemical avoidance. Prayer and meditation  also were recommended choices. Of those who tried Zoloft, prescription medication, two-thirds of patients reported it as being harmful, along with other pharmaceutical drugs and chemical, unnatural solutions.

Nutritional or dietary changes, including vitamin or herbal supplements, can also be beneficial.  Many people with MCS/IEI with dietary restrictions might eliminate whole categories of foods (dairy, for example, or meat).   A trusted nutritionist or healthcare practitioner can work with the patient to review and plan a diet with optimal nutrition.

In addition to meditation, dietary and lifestyle changes, some patients suffering from MCS/IEI symptoms have found acupuncture, chiropractic treatment, or yoga to be effective methods for relieving respiratory,  anxiety, nausea, and pain symptoms and promoting relaxation.

However, the primary treatment remains to take action to modify the living environment and avoid MCS/IEI triggers.  The following modifications may be effective:

  1. Vacuum pillows, beds, chairs, etc. weekly, with a HEPA filter vacuum, change the filter regularly
  2. Wash sheets and blankets weekly in hot water (130°F [54°C]) and dry in a hot dryer.
  3. Cover mattresses and pillowcases with airtight allergen-proof covers.
  4. Replace comforters and pillows made from natural materials (such as down, feathers, or cotton) with those made from synthetic fibers.
  5. Avoid wall-to-wall carpeting (especially in the bedroom) as much as possible. If you have it, be sure to vacuum often.
  6. Throw out all products with chemical fragrances (perfumes, cleaning supplies, shampoo, etc.)
  7. Buy only natural, fragrance-free products
  8. Close all open gaps in windows, floorboards, doors, and around drains.
  9. Fix and seal leaky water faucets and pipes because roaches need water and humidity to survive.
  10. Always keep food in airtight containers.
  11. Remove pet food dishes after pets have eaten.
  12. Keep stove and kitchen surfaces free of food and dirt.
  13. Use an air-purifier with a HEPA filter
  14. Throw out all food products with food additive and chemicals
  15. Do not use processed oils
  16. Wash all fresh fruits and vegetables before eating
  17. Do not eat packaged foods.
  18. Remove any curtains, carpeting, or wallpaper that show visible evidence of mold.
  19. Install exhaust fans in the kitchen and bathroom.
  20. Use dehumidifiers in damp areas such as the basement, and hire others to clean this regularly
  21. Avoid storing clothing in damp areas.
  22. Do not carpet damp or concrete floors, use wooden floors or tile floors only, if possible
  23. Do not use gas stoves or gas heating, use electric
  24. Do not use synthetic, plastic or man-made fibers in clothing or blankets.
  25. Use a solution of 1 part bleach and 20 parts water to clean areas with mold.
  26. Do not frequent any locations that allow smoking.
  27. Avoid areas with fresh paint fumes.
  28. Avoid the fumes of strong cleaning products.
  29. Avoid perfumes and aerosols.
  30. Use masks if needing to go around airport terminals, bus stations or train stations, or hire others to help you.
  31. Hire others to help you with raking, mowing, blowing leaves, gardening and cleaning the garage, yard or home.
  32. Close windows and stay indoors (with air conditioning) when necessary, using air purifiers.
  33.  Have an air quality test performed by an industrial hygiene professional to assess poor air quality, dust, mold or mildew accumulation, VOC concentration, etc.
  34. Buy indoor exercise equipment to keep physically fit rather than participating in outdoor activities
  35. Make your home a pleasant enjoyable place where you can meet your needs and best care for yourself in comfort.

RESEARCH ARTICLES

Principles and Methods for Assessing Autoimmunity Associated With Exposure to Chemicals: Environmental Health Criteria 236 – ehc236.pdf. World Health Organization (WHO)

Watanabe M, Tonori H and Aizawa Y,  “Multiple chemical sensitivities and idiopathic environmental intolerance” (part one), Department of Preventive Medicine and Public Health, Kitasato University School of Medicine, 1-15-1 Kitasato, 228-8555 Sagamihara, Kanagawa, Japan,   Environ Health Prev Med, v.7(6); Jan 2003, PMC2723465

Watanabe M, Tonori H and Aizawa Y,  “Multiple chemical sensitivities and idiopathic environmental intolerance” (part two), Department of Preventive Medicine and Public Health, Kitasato University School of Medicine, 1-15-1 Kitasato, 228-8555 Sagamihara, Kanagawa, Japan,   Environ Health Prev Med, v.7(6); Jan 2003, PMC2723466

Meggs WJ, Dunn KA, Bloch RM, et al. Prevalence and nature of allergy and chemical sensitivity in a general population. Arch Environ Health 1996; 51:275.

Kreutzer R, Neutra RR, Lashuay N. Prevalence of people reporting sensitivities to chemicals in a population-based survey. Am J Epidemiol. 1999;150:1-12.

Multiple chemical sensitivity: a 1999 consensus. Arch Environ Health. 1999;54:147-9.

Fukuda K, Nisenbaum R, Stewart G, et al. Chronic multisymptom illness affecting Air Force veterans of the Gulf War. JAMA. 1998;280:981-8.

Jason LA, Taylor RR, Kennedy CL. Chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia and multiple chemical sensitivities in a community-based sample of persons with chronic fatigue syndrome-like symptoms. Psychosom Med. 2000;62:655-63.

Bailer J, Witthöft M, Rist F. Psychological predictors of short- and medium term outcome in individuals with idiopathic environmental intolerance (IEI) and individuals with somatoform disorders. J Toxicol Environ Health A 2008; 71:766.

Sparks PJ, Daniell W, Black DW, et al. Multiple chemical sensitivity syndrome: a clinical perspective. I. Case definition, theories of pathogenesis, and research needs. J Occup Med 1994; 36:718.

Levin AS, Byers VS. Environmental illness: a disorder of immune regulation. Occup Med 1987; 2:669.

Black, DW., Temple S, Overview of idiopathic environmental intolerance (multiple chemical sensitivity)” 


_________________________________

Jean E. DartThis article is written by Jean Voice Dart, M.S. Special Education from Illinois State University. Jean is a published author and has written hundreds of health articles as well as hosting a local television program, “Making Miracles Happen.” She is a Registered Music Therapist, Sound Therapist, and Master Level Energetic Teacher, and is the Executive Director, founder and Health and Wellness Educator of the Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance. The Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance is a registered 501 (c) 3 nonprofit health and wellness education organization. For more information about the Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance contact us or visit our website at www.montereybayholistic.com.


Disclaimer:The Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance is a charitable, independent registered nonprofit 501(c)3 organization and does not endorse any particular products or practices. We exist as an educational organization dedicated to providing free access to health education resources, products and services. Claims and statements herein are for informational purposes only and have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The statements about organizations, practitioners, methods of treatment, and products listed on this website are not meant to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. This information is intended for educational purposes only. The MBHA strongly recommends that you seek out your trusted medical doctor or practitioner for diagnosis and treatment of any existing health condition.

 

What Are Cell Phones Doing to Our Brains? – Research and Statistical Studies

How Do Cell Phones Affect our Brain?

Do cell phones make us sick? How do mobile phones affect us?

Can mobile phones make us sick?  What do cell phones do to our bodies and our minds?   Cellular (cell) phones first became widely available in the United States in the 1990’s.   Since that time the use of mobile phone devices has increased dramatically . The widespread use of cell phones has led to cell phone towers being placed in many communities.

Cell phone towers, also called base stations, receive and transmit radio frequency (RF) signals. As of November 2011, there were more than 6 billion subscriptions worldwide for mobile phones. In 2011, International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified mobile phone radiation on the IARC scale into Group 2B,  which means it is “possibly carcinogenic.” That means that there “could be some risk” of carcinogenicity, and that more long-term, research is needed particularly on heavy use of mobile phones.

man stressed cell phoneWHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?
According to Martin Röösli, Environmental Research,  mobile phone users have reported feeling several unspecific symptoms during and after using cell phones.  These symptoms include:

  1. burning and tingling sensations in the skin of the head and extremities
  2. fatigue
  3. sleep disturbances
  4. dizziness
  5. loss of mental attention, reaction times and memory
  6. headaches
  7. malaise
  8. tachycardia (heart palpitations)
  9. nausea
  10. digestive problems.

However, researchers note that all of these symptoms can also be attributed to stress and that current research cannot factor out the effects of stress and the effect of mobile phone radiation.

HOW DO CELL PHONE TOWERS WORK? 
Cell phone base stations may be free-standing towers or mounted on existing structures, such as trees, water tanks, or tall buildings. The antennas need to be high enough so they can cover the area. Base stations are usually from 50-200 feet high.  Cell Phone Towernternational Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC)  noted that exposure to the brain from RF fields from cell phone base stations (mounted on roofs or towers) is less than 1/100th the exposure to the brain from mobile devices such as cell phones.

Cell Phone RisksWHAT DO PUBLIC AGENCIES TELL US?
The  agencies that usually classify cancer-causing exposures (carcinogens) – the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the National Toxicology Program (NTP), and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) – have not classified the cancer-causing potential of cell phone towers.

The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) said:

“Radiofrequency emissions from antennas used for cellular and PCS [personal communications service] transmissions result in exposure levels on the ground that are typically thousands of times below safety limits. These safety limits were adopted by the FCC based on the recommendations of expert organizations and endorsed by agencies of the Federal Government responsible for health and safety. Therefore, there is no reason to believe that such towers could constitute a potential health hazard to nearby residents or students.”

In May 2011, WHO, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer announced it was classifying the electromagnetic fields from cell phones and other sources as “possibly carcinogenic to humans.”

Mobile Phone Brain
The World Health Organization advised the public to adopt safety measures to reduce exposure, like use of hands-free devices or texting.

WHAT DOES RESEARCH TELL US?
Researchers agree that more long-term research is needed to determine the effects of mobile phone usage and the effects of cell phone base stations.

Researchers from a German study conducted by Joachim Schüz and others in 2006, stated:

“In conclusion, no overall increased risk of glioma or meningioma was observed among these cellular phone users; however, for long-term cellular phone users, results need to be confirmed before firm conclusions can be drawn.”

Mobile Phone Radiation

Cell phones can heat the body with radio frequency (RF) radiation.

A 2009 study examined the effects of exposure to radio frequency radiation (RFR) from a standard GSM cell phone on the cognitive functioning of humans. The study confirmed that longer (slower) response time were needed for a spatial working memory task when the subjects were exposed to RFR from a standard GSM cellular phone.  The phone was placed next to the head of male subjects, and showed that longer duration of exposure to RFR may increase the effects on performance. Right-handed subjects exposed to RFR on the left side of their head on average had significantly longer response times when compared to exposure to the right side and sham-exposure.

CAN LONG-TERM CELL PHONE USE CAUSE BRAIN CANCER?
A Swedish scientific team at the Karolinska Institute led by Stefan Lönn and others, conducted an epidemiological study (2004) that suggested that regular use of a mobile phone over ten or more years was associated with an increased risk of acoustic neuroma, a type of benign brain tumor. Those who used mobile phones less than ten years did not show an  increased risk.

Reseachers from the Interphone Project, a 2010 thirteen-nation project and the largest study of its kind ever undertaken,  did not find a solid link between mobile phones and brain tumors.

Cell Phone Interphone Study

Interphone Study Statistics

The International Journal of Epidemiology published a combined data analysis from a multinational population-based case-control study of the two most common types of brain tumors, glioma and meningioma, entitled, “Brain tumour risk in relation to mobile telephone use: Results of the INTERPHONE international case-control study”.  The authors reported the following conclusions:

“Overall, no increase in risk of glioma or meningioma was observed with use of mobile phones. There were suggestions of an increased risk of glioma at the highest exposure levels, but biases and error prevent a causal interpretation. The possible effects of long-term heavy use of mobile phones require further investigation.”

Researchers who report that there is no substantial evidence that long term exposure to cell phones causes brain cancer,  refer to statistical information and cross comparisons with data from cell phone usage and brain cancer incidence.

Cell Phone Brain Cancer
The graph above clearly shows that as mobile phone usage increased, brain cancer incidence decreased. Therefore, showing that brain cancer is not directly connected to cell phone usage.

However, in 2011, International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified mobile phone radiation on the IARC scale into Group 2B,  which means it is “possibly carcinogenic.”

HOW CAN WE BE SAFE?
Even though there appears to be no correlation between brain cancer and increased mobile phone usage, mobile, the World Health Organization’s International Agency  and national radiation authorities recognizes long-term use of cell phones as being potentially harmful and having adverse effects.  Safety precautions are recommended.

Cell phone safety

Health  and safety poster from the City of San Francisco provided to consumers under city law

The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer  and some national radiation advisory authorities, including those of Austria, France, Germany, and Sweden, have recommended that people take measures to minimize exposure to radiation from cell phone usage. Some examples of the recommendations are:

  • Use hands-free to decrease the radiation to the head.
  • Keep the mobile phone away from the body.
  • Do not use telephone in a car without an external antenna.
  • Use mobile radiation tracking apps to help to limit radiation exposure


REFERENCES

Interphone Study Group (2010). “Brain tumour risk in relation to mobile telephone use: Results of the INTERPHONE international case-control study”. International Journal of Epidemiology 39 (3): 675–694.

Luria, Roy; Eliyahu, Ilan; Hareuveny, Ronen; Margaliot, Menachem; Meiran, Nachshon (2009). “Cognitive effects of radiation emitted by cellular phones: The influence of exposure side and time”. Bioelectromagnetics 30 (3): 198–204. 

Lönn, Stefan; Ahlbom, Anders; Hall, Per; Feychting, Maria (2004). “Mobile Phone Use and the Risk of Acoustic Neuroma”Epidemiology 15 (6): 653–9.

Röösli, Martin (June 2008). “Radiofrequency electromagnetic field exposure and non-specific symptoms of ill health: A systematic review”Environmental Research 107 (2): 277–287.

Schüz, Joachim; Böhler, Eva; Berg, Gabriele; Schlehofer, Brigitte; Hettinger, Iris; Schlaefer, Klaus; Wahrendorf, Jürgen; Kunna-Grass, Katharina et al. (2006). “Cellular Phones, Cordless Phones, and the Risks of Glioma and Meningioma (Interphone Study Group, Germany)”.American Journal of Epidemiology 163 (6): 512–20.

_______________________________


Jean E. DartThis article is written by Jean Voice Dart,  M.S. Special Education from Illinois State University.
 Jean is a published author and has written hundreds of health articles as well as hosting a local television program, “Making Miracles Happen.”  She is a Registered Music Therapist, Sound Therapist, and Master Level Energetic Teacher, and is the Executive Director, founder and Health and Wellness Educator of the Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance.  The Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance is a registered 501 (c) 3  nonprofit health and wellness education organization.  For more information about  the Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance contact us or visit our website at www.montereybayholistic.com.

Disclaimer: The Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance is a charitable, independent registered nonprofit 501(c)3 organization and does not endorse any particular products or practices. We exist as an educational organization dedicated to providing free access to health education resources, products and services. Claims and statements herein are for informational purposes only and have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The statements about organizations, practitioners, methods of treatment, and products listed on this website are not meant to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. This information is intended for educational purposes only. The MBHA strongly recommends that you seek out your trusted medical doctor or practitioner for diagnosis and treatment of any existing health condition.