Your cell phone may be killing you. Over twenty years ago, when I lived in Hawaii, the Honolulu Advertiser, our major newspaper ran a story on the dangers of cell phones. At that time the average cell phone was large, heavy and a little under two thousand dollars. They quickly came down in price. Realtors and doctors loved them. Very quickly though, everyone in the business district was replacing mobile phones and pagers with the nifty little devices. The newspaper article made sales drop for approximately 48 hours. "We ought to buy stock," my friend had advised on the day the cell phone sales dipped. "Because trust me," she continued, "people are not going to quit using these handy little things."

Oh no, they didn't. . . sales of cell phones surpass even those of home computers. It has become the utility most sought after. People will sooner forgo the landline phone or satellite TV. Why? It's become a necessity to reach people. Not just doctors and lawyers, but even a soccer coach wants to be able to find his wife at the store. God forbid she forget to pick up his dry cleaning on the way home. It's not just a convenience, it's a safety issue. If your car breaks down, if you get lost, a cell phone can save your life. The time you send calls can prove your whereabouts if necessary.

Many people buy phones for their children or teenagers thinking it's so great to be able to find them any time of day or night. There are cell phones marketed especially to very young children. These phones may have space for only a limited number of numbers, which can be pre-programmed to one touch calling for mom, dad, and a few other trusted numbers. Some are vivid primary colors or have cute designs to attract the attention of youngsters.

According to Harper's Magazine, young children may be the most susceptible to the dangers of Electro-magnetic fields. Perhaps it is simply cumulative, the younger you start using a cell phone the longer you have it in your life. Perhaps it is because children are smaller, so the ratio of EMF to their head is larger. Perhaps it is because children are weaker or more fragile than full grown adults. For some reason, the rate of rare brain cancers and tumors has increased with the use of cell phones. Some researchers believe it is because of cell phone use. The average incubation time for glioma to appear is about 15 years. So we are barely one generation into the test group of whether cell phones are causing cancer or not.

Some dire predictions made in the magazine article, are a rampant increase in cancer about 30 years from now. If you think that sounds too nebulous and too far off to affect your lifestyle choices, go visit someone who has cancer. It is not a pretty sight. The research, however, is far from consistent. Some studies show no correlation between cancer and phone use. There are a few simple things anyone could do to lessen their exposure:

1) Lessen the amount of time you speak on your cell phone, or drop your service altogether.

2) Use a headset that keeps the phone itself away from your head when you use it

3) Keep your cell phone in your purse or briefcase, or otherwise away from your body when not in use

4) Do not issue a cell phone to anyone under the age of 6.

5) Limit the amount of time a teenager has access, for example give it to them only when they are going out.

There are other dangers of cell phones that were not so scary as cancer. One had to do with back pain. If you are in the habit of slipping the phone into your back pocket and sitting on it while you drive you may be un-aligning your spine. Months of doing this can cause severe sciatica. Your chiropractor may warn you. Don't keep your wallet in your back pocket for the same reason.

If Electro magnetic fields are the real culprit behind the rise in cancer, than more than just the phone itself can cause concern. The cell towers themselves and other power lines emit these fields. Cell towers, being unattractive are generally located in low income neighborhoods. However, they may be located anywhere, even on top of a convenience store you shop at. If you have the choice, stay out of the line of fire. It may not make a difference, and it may save your life especially if cancer runs in your family. Statistics show the chances of getting prostate cancer are about 1 in 9, breast cancer 1 in 5 in the United States.

To avoid Electro Magnetic Fields one should stand a reasonable distance away from a microwave oven as well. Less than one percent of the population in the United States currently live without these handy devices. I'd be willing to bet, it isn't poverty keeping them out of the home, but a concern over safety. Last year the big scare was over using plastic in the microwave. Once again this is not new information. My father, an early adaptor, bought a huge and clunky microwave in the early days. The salesman who sold it to us told us not to use plastic or metal in the devise. It was well over 25 years later before I did. While some plastic will melt and emit strange odors in a microwave, some is specifically stamped "microwave safe" on the bottom. I wonder if the latest scare regarding plastic has to do with that earlier warning, dug up and reinvented on the internet. The jury is still out. It's easy enough to put everything in ceramic, and you will make less landfill if you do.

Another way to avoid needless exposure is to use wool blankets or down comforters instead of electric blankets or electric mattress pad heaters. Sit a reasonable distance away from a television. Put a laptop computer on top of a surface in lieu of your lap when using it.