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Cell Phone May Reduce Bone Density in Hips

Keep mobile phones as far as possible from body, research suggests

MONDAY, Oct. 26 (HealthDay News) -- Wearing a cell phone on your hip may reduce bone density in an area of the pelvis commonly used for bone grafts, a new study suggests.

Turkish researchers used dual X-ray absorptiometry to measure bone density at the upper rims of the pelvis (iliac wings) in 150 men who carried their cell phones on their belts. The men carried their phones for an average of 15 hours a day, and had used cell phones for an average of six years.

Bone density was slightly reduced on the side of the pelvis where the men carried their cell phones, the study found. The difference wasn't statistically significant and didn't approach bone level density reductions seen in people with osteoporosis. However, the men were relatively young (average age 32), and further bone weakening may occur, said Dr. Tolga Atay and colleagues at Suleyman Demirel University in Isparta.

The study, published in the September issue of the Journal of Craniofacial Surgery, suggests that electromagnetic fields emitted by cell phones may have a harmful effect on bone density.

However, the researchers emphasized that their findings are preliminary and noted that future generations of cell phones may reduce users' exposure to electromagnetic fields. In the meantime, it "would be better to keep mobile phones as far as possible from our body during our daily lives," Atay and colleagues concluded.

The iliac wings of the pelvis are widely used for bone grafting, which means any reduction in bone density there may affect reconstructive surgery. In procedures where bone density is important for good outcomes, surgeons may want to consider the possible effects of exposure to electromagnetic fields from cell phones, the researchers suggested.

More information

The World Health Organization has more about electromagnetic fields.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: Journal of Craniofacial Surgery, news release, Oct. 23, 2009

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