The purpose of this article is to caution all readers about mobile phones or cell phones and other handheld devices such as iPods, remote controls and cordless telephones. I write this article from my own personal experience of a tragedy that affected me bitterly.
He became Unreachable
It happened over a year ago. My friend Jacques was then holding a high-ranking managerial job in a world-renowned advertising company. He had just returned from a trip to Singapore where he was awarded several prizes for his unique advertisements and creative work. I did not notice anything the day I went to receive him at Charles de Gaulle. We, his mother, his wife, Marie, and myself, were probably too busy congratulating him to see that anything was wrong. I remember we even took him out to lunch at his favorite restaurant. The day after, he attended office as usual. That evening Jacques came back and asked his wife if she noticed any remarkable or peculiar change on his face. Upon careful scrutiny, Marie found that his face had become suddenly angular, skewed. She grew alarmed and immediately called up his mother at her home on Rue de la Neva and me at Avenue Matignon. We rushed to Jacques’s place near the Bastille and observed, for the first time, the perceptible change that had taken place in his face. Apparently, his colleagues at office were the first to spot the alteration that made Jacques’s face appear slanted.
We took Jacques to a doctor right away. The doctor recommended a brain scan. Initially, we were taken aback by the necessity of the brain scan but the doctor assured us that it was just a routine matter, that he wanted to eliminate some diseases. When I asked the doctor the possible reason why Jacques’s face had become crooked, he said that it was perhaps due to a muscular problem that could be cured easily with facial exercises and physiotherapy. This assuaged our fears by a great deal. Jacques spent the rest of the evening playing with his kids. The very next day, Jacques drove us all in his Peugeot to the hospital for his scan. The nurse had said that it would be a matter of forty-five minutes. Jacques intended to drive to office after the scan. His mother, his wife and I would take cabs to our respective offices too. We waited outside the MRI room and occupied ourselves in diverse ways. I went through the newspapers while Marie enlightened his mother on how naughty the kids had become of late. When Jacques was not still out of the scan room after an hour had slipped by, I went up and knocked on the sliding door. The nurse and the doctor both emerged with somber faces. What followed left us completely shocked and shattered. The scan showed that Jacques had five tumors in his brain and that all five were malignant. Worse still, they could not be operated upon and removed as they were housed in the most delicate parts of the cerebrum and cerebellum.
Needless to say, we consulted circa a hundred doctors. Yes, almost a hundred doctors and no less. Jacques was a young man of thirty-seven with a wife and two children. It was imperative that he lived. He wanted very badly to live. I remember his pathetic face with tears streaming down his cheeks, inconsolable every time he visited an oncologist or an onco-surgeon who further dashed his hopes of surviving. If a tumor can be expunged by operation, there is nothing like it. But the problem with Jacques’s tumors was that they could not be obliterated that way. All the surgeons kept explaining to us that if they run their scalpels through Jacques’s brain or try to extirpate the tumors using laser or other beams, he would end up becoming a vegetable as the tumors were located in vital parts and removing them would mean removing the vital parts such as the parts responsible for remembering, thinking, seeing, reasoning, etc.
I cannot get over those months though they were not very many in number. Jacques was suffering from brain cancer that had reached an advanced stage from which there was no hope of recovering whatever. His mother was devastated. Marie took leave from her work to be with Jacques for most of the time. The strange thing about brain cancer and about any cancer is that the disease spreads without giving the patient any warning. The doctors and surgeons had told us that Jacques’s five tumors had developed over some years prior to the diagnosis and that had his disease been discovered at an earlier stage, he would probably have stood some chance of recovery as the tumors when small could have been excised without causing any major damage to his brain. When the warning came, however, it was already too late and metastasis had set in. Within days of the discovery, Jacques was paralyzed, unable to walk as the tumors hindered the normal motor functions of the brain. Gradually, his speech and vision too got impaired. Jacques was soon slipping in and out of consciousness. The pain was excruciating and Jacques was practically living on painkillers and sedatives and food injected through the intravenous. We thought of chemotherapy as a last-ditch effort to make him stay alive for a few more months but the doctors told us not to go for it as it would be useless harassment for a bed-ridden and terminally ill patient who needed rest and sleep above everything else in his last days. He died within four months of the scan and of being diagnosed with brain carcinoma.
Cell Phones or Mobile Phones are the Culprit
All the doctors told us that the widespread use of cell phones and wireless technology is to be cited as the single most important reason for the increased incidence of brain cancer among people. Cell phones or mobile phones and other handheld devices, which are very popular nowadays, function with the help of electromagnetic radiation. When you talk to someone on a cell phone, these rays pass through your brain. Even when you are listening to music with the help of an iPod, some rays are cutting across your brain. Cordless telephones also have the same effects. So, the more a person talks on the mobile phone and uses handheld devices, the more susceptible he or she is to brain cancer, malignant gliomas, and acoustic neuromas. Moreover, research findings show that there is a greater chance of cancer occurring in those parts of the brain next to the ear in which a person places his or her cell phone, iPod or other device. Jacques used to be on his cell phone almost 24/7. Talking to overseas clients, to his family and friends when he was out of Paris, to his coworkers and teammates across continents. He would keep his cell phone switched on throughout the night and take it to bed with him so that he could talk to clients abroad as soon as they rang up.
Wireless Technology Can Create a Mesh of Problems
Some experts even claim that talking on the cell phone is far more hazardous than smoking because:
• cell phone usage is bound to lead to the onset of cancer whereas smoking may or may not cause cancer. (However, this claim has been widely disputed as some research findings have supported it while other findings have negated it. Some scientists maintain that they have not yet found any direct relationship between cell phone usage and brain cancer. They have also said that such relationships may be discovered after prolonged cell phone usage and hence the link between cell phone usage and cancer cannot be totally ruled out.)
• practically all of us use mobile phones or cell phones while very few of us smoke. If you compare the number of smokers in the world to the number of cell phone users, the number of smokers will seem minuscule.
Additionally, devices operated by wireless technology can also affect cognitive abilities adversely – which means they can harm reasoning and response processes in humans and cause humans to respond to situations and problems at a slower rate. Research also indicates that continuous exposure to electromagnetic radiation from mobile phones or cell phones also causes fatigue, insomnia, headaches, giddiness, a decrease in concentration power, a loss of memory, an increase in the pulse rate and indigestion.
Studies show that people dwelling near mobile towers and base stations are at greater risk as they are encompassed by radiation from top to toe, all the time. People living in close proximity to GSM cell towers have often complained of tiredness, sleeping disorders, and loss of memory. The number of complaints has skyrocketed over the last couple of years forcing governments to formulate restrictions regarding the locations of GSM cell towers. While most developed nations have regulations in place that proscribe the location of a cell tower in the vicinity of a residential neighborhood or a school, underdeveloped nations have no such restrictions in place to safeguard their populations from the damaging effects of radiations from such base stations.
The Cancer Has Spread Too Far
So what should the world leaders do? Impose an embargo on the use of mobile phones, cell phones and wireless technology? That may be advisable but is not feasible. We are too deeply entrenched in mobile phone technology to call for and implement such prohibitions. I tried not to use my cell phone after my friend’s death. Every time, I was out of France, I would call up my mother, colleagues and friends long-distance through the traditional hotel telephone. But after a while, it became a nuisance. I could not wait to check into a hotel or walk to a public telephone booth to place a call to my mother, my colleagues and friends. I have become totally dependent on and a slave to my cell phone. Modern cell phones are such handy devices that you cannot do without them. And they are getting more and more sophisticated and snazzy by the day. What with video, audio, chatting, email, Internet, gaming, and even video conferencing facilities integrated into a mobile phone, the cell phone has become almost as essential as food and water! And that is the most frightening aspect of mobile phones and cell phones!
The only thing that we can hope for is that mobile phone and cell phone manufacturers devise safer modes of communication, i.e. they make phones that are biologically compatible. I cannot say that they are not trying. Many of the cell phone giants are sincerely endeavoring to bring out phones that are state-of-the-art and pose no risk whatsoever to the human brain and body. But it will be some time before such phones are available to common people at affordable prices. What will happen in the meantime is ghastly and something that I would not like to think or talk about.
The Flip Side of a Hi-Tech World
In today’s world, technology is the yardstick of progress. The more technology-savvy the world is, the more advanced it is. At least that is what some people believe and would like to have others believe. But is technology the real measure of progress? Granted, technology makes us smarter, faster, and more competent. But the rapid development of technology has also spawned crimes that are peculiar to this new age, crimes that even law enforcement agencies are struggling to understand. While technology facilitates better surveillance of criminals, it also aids and abets criminals to get around the law. Technology is a two-edged sword, the full and final ramifications of which are not completely known to us.
Technology has changed the pace of life dramatically. It has helped turn the world into a global village. However, the current hysteria and media-hype over technology is uncalled for. The media has a serious responsibility to play. It should educate the masses about the ill-effects of technology too. Medical experts have been clamoring and shouting themselves hoarse about the negative effects of cell phones for a long time but their persistent warnings have been drowned in a sea of media eulogies for cell phones, which the media call ‘smart phones’. Some doctors who are oncologists, onco-surgeons, neurologists and neurosurgeons have confessed to me that they have tried to throw out their cell phones from their windows, as they are the people who understand the malignant effects of cell phone radiations, better than others do. But they have failed in their essays and have gone back to using mobile phones and cell phones. This revelation was the next most staggering thing to me after my friend’s death. Doctors and surgeons who are fully conscious of the detrimental effects of cell phones cannot give up using cell phones!
Let Us Communicate for the Maximum Possible Time
We need to make a concerted effort in order to clamp down on cell phones and mobile phones, to put sufficient pressure on mobile phone and cell phone manufacturers to invent new, bio-friendly, and brain-friendly cell phones. I am not blaming cell phone companies outright. But what they need to do is to rethink. Individual essays to curb cell phone usage have proved to be futile and will continue to be fruitless because the gadget has become a part and parcel of our lives. Just as we started using the cell phone because our friends and neighbors were using it, we will stop using it if our friends and neighbors stop using it. While cell phone companies need to mull over how they can give their products more credence by making them less harmful, we need to unite in our attempt to fight untimely deaths due to the cell phone. Also, scientists should try to find ways and means of combating this terrible disease because brain cancer is one of the few cancers and diseases that is fatal straightaway.
I understand if you still do not agree with me. But if you lost a best friend or a near and dear one like I did, I am sure you would appreciate what I am trying to say. The radiation from cell phones is cancerous in nature though some studies continue to contradict this fact and if we are constantly exposed to it, we make ourselves vulnerable and prone to the dreaded disease. Mobile phones, cell phones and handheld devices are about the only gadgets that we should stop using because neither televisions and stereos nor PCs, laptops, and digital cameras have ever proved to be harmful, at least from a cancer-causing radiation point of view. This article does not exhort you to go back to the medieval ages, to give up technology or to bring to a halt the steady forward march of civilization. It only adjures you to stop using only those gadgets that have the potential to harm you physically. The mobile phone or cell phone is a Frankenstein that destroys the very brain that creates it. Let us banish this Frankenstein from our lives forever.