Cell Phones on Hip May Weaken Bone
Study Suggests Link Between Bone Weakness and Wearing a Cell Phone on the Hip
Oct. 27, 2009 -- Early research suggests that wearing a cell phone on your hip may weaken the area of the pelvis widely used for bone grafting.
Using an X-ray technique used in the diagnosis and monitoring of patients with osteoporosis, researchers from Turkey's Suleyman Demireli University measured pelvic bone density in 150 men who regularly carried their cell phones attached to their belts.
The men carried their phones for an average of 15 hours each day; they had used cell phones for an average of six years.
The researchers found that bone mineral density was slightly less on the side of the pelvis where the mobile phones were carried than on the side that was not in contact with the phones.
The difference was not statistically significant and fell far short of approaching bone density reductions seen in people with osteoporosis.
But the findings raise the possibility that bone density could be adversely affected by electromagnetic fields emitted by cell phones, researcher Tolga Atay, MD, and colleagues note in a news release.
The men in the study were relatively young -- their average age was 32 -- and the researchers hypothesize that bone loss may be more significant in older people with a greater risk for osteoporosis.
The study appears in the September issue of the Journal of Craniofacial Surgery.
It is among the first to suggest that close-proximity, long-term exposure to mobile phones may weaken bones, and the researchers stress that their findings are preliminary.
Frank Barnes, PhD, who is a distinguished professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Colorado, Boulder, tells WebMD that he knows of no other research examining the impact of cell phone exposure on bone density.
Barnes chaired a National Research Council (NRC) committee asked by the FDA to report on the research evaluating cell phone safety.
He points out that electromagnetic waves have been used experimentally to promote bone growth in people with broken bones that would not heal.
Electromagnetic wave treatment has also been found to strengthen bone in research involving patients with osteoporosis.