If you enact just one rule in your home this holiday season, let it be this: Put down your cellphone.
Earlier this year, we warned you about the mounting evidence that cellphones, specifically smartphones, damage our health. Just a few examples include...
- Neck pain
- Drops in sperm count
- Eye strain
- Possible DNA damage
That last one is key. DNA damage puts you on the road to cancer, which is why so many researchers are studying the links between radiation from cellphones and tumor growth.
But it's not just the radiation that causes problems. Smartphone screens emit blue light. Blue light interrupts our sleep cycle by messing up our melatonin levels.
Melatonin, the hormone secreted to help you fall asleep, is essential for keeping us on a healthy, restorative schedule. Disrupting this cycle leads to grogginess, impaired memory, increased risk for depression and obesity, and even loss of vision.
And the research just keeps getting worse.
The Radiological Society of North America recently released a study linking smartphone addiction and chemical imbalances in the brain. In other words, too much time on your phone can make you physically ill.
It was a small study, and done on teenagers, but the results were significant. The more these teens used their cellphones, the higher their scores on addiction tests. That means these devices interfere with everything from productivity to sleep patterns in addicted teens.
What's more, researchers also used magnetic resonance spectroscopy to look at chemicals in the teens' brains. Those addicted had higher ratios of two important neurotransmitters – gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA) and glutamate-glutamine (Glx). GABA slows down brain signals, while Glx excites brain signals. Throwing off that ratio is a signature effect of not only addiction, but also depression and anxiety.
Now, there is some controversy about this study and ones like it... You see, we're still not totally sure that smartphones cause addiction, which then causes anxiety and depression. The other possibility is that folks with anxiety and depression are more likely to turn to their phones for distraction (and subsequently get addicted).
However, this study doesn't surprise us because we've seen so many similar studies about the dangers of cellphones.
Smartphones literally change the way we think. They shorten our attention spans and cause us to constantly check that we aren't missing out on something. In one study, students had their phones taken away, but could still hear them. The researchers then sent texts to the phones, making them go off, but the students couldn't answer. Their anxiety levels skyrocketed.
These smartphones also change the way our memory works. A 2011 study demonstrated that people who used the Internet made less of an effort to remember things.
It's called memory outsourcing. We don't know if our memories will deteriorate because of it, or if we're simply entering an age where we learn and process information differently because of our reliance on technology. What we do know is that the constant interruptions interfere too much in our lives. In the worst cases, they offer a tool to fuel addictive behaviors.
And if you're reading this thinking it's only the kids with these problems, think again. According to the Pew Research Center, about 77% of Americans now own a smartphone. That's staggering growth since only six years ago, when that number was just 35%. Even in our own families, we're seeing more and more folks 50 and older getting smartphones.
One of the best things you can do... put your cellphone away at least an hour before bed. And keep it in another room. Not only will it calm your anxiety, but it will also keep you away from dangerous radiation.
And when you're with family, say around the table sharing your holiday meal, make sure everyone leaves their phones in another room.
Personally, I think we spend way too much time on our devices. Try committing to turning your phone off for certain periods of time, be it just an hour or overnight.
Not only will this reduce your exposure, but it will help fight off any addictions to the phone that you might have. Try it out, and let us know how it goes with your family over the next few weeks.
I detail the risks of cellphone use in my new report, "How to Protect Yourself from Your Cellphone and Other Devices: The EMF Radiation Protocol." Current Retirement Millionaire subscribers can read it here.
And if you're not a Retirement Millionaire subscriber, learn more about cellphone radiation by clicking here.
What We're Reading...
- Science News summarizes some of the more worrisome findings.
- Something different: Put politics aside and learn more about these WWII heroes.
Here's to our health, wealth, and a great retirement,
Dr. David Eifrig and the Retirement Millionaire Daily Research Team
December 7, 2017