Those little pocket sidekicks have become all but necessary in the lives of many. Could they really be causing us harm?
There’s no denying the fact that cellphones—those handy little contact-lists-slash-day-planners-slash-Facebook-checkers that we keep stashed away in our pockets or purses—have seemingly become a necessity in our everyday lives. As we try to force more and more activities into the same old 24 hour period, many of us depend on our cellphones to keep us in contact with family members, make appointments, and keep track of engagements.
While we’ve all experienced to some degree the level of distraction that these little lifelines can cause—I nearly walked into a pole while texting a few weeks back, admittedly—the side effects of depending on cellphones, according to a new study, may be much more serious than a bruised forehead.
Too Much Chat Time?
The study explored the association between 20 heavy cellphone users who spoke on the phone for at least 8 hour per month—and many of themreporting regular use as high as 40 hours per month—to the levels of oxidative stress found in their saliva.
After establishing a control group composed of those who were deaf or who used their phones solely for texting, researchers determined that heavy cellphone users had reliably and significantly higher levels of oxidative stress.
Oxidative stress is caused when our bodies don’t carry enough antioxidants to counteract against the free radicals found in everyday life—present in UV rays, herbicides, and alcohol, to name a few. Some studies have found that it may damage DNA, which in turn may cause premature aging and serious illnesses, including cancers, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Fortunately, beyond playing it smart and lessening the amount of free radicals we’re exposed to (including getting off the phone and walking to a co-worker’s desk when possible), there are ways to bolster our body’s defences against free radicals and repair the damage done by oxidative stress.
Men’s health across the life course
Theodore D. Cosco, PhD (Cantab) CPsychol