This is Your Brain on Phones

Few executives go anywhere these days without that staple of 21st century commerce – a cell phone – in tow. But news reports suggesting possible links between cell phone use and memory loss, headaches, fatigue and even brain cancer have many mobile communications addicts worried. Industry leaders are quick to point out that no studies have conclusively tied the electromagnetic radiation (EMR) emitted by mobile phones to health risks, but health advocates insist that it’s too soon to rule out the possibility. Virtually everyone agrees that more studies are needed.

In the meantime, more than 100 million potentially anxious cell phone users represent a lucrative target market for products promising to minimize exposure to EMR. For example, Calgon Carbon Corp. ( claims that its $9.95 WaveZorb product, a small disk of carbon cloth that attaches to a phone’s earpiece, blocks up to 99 percent of microwave radiation. SV1 of Boca Raton, Fla. (, says that its $19.95 SafeTShield, a small oval of polycarbon metallic fiber, filters up to 99 percent of EMR. Protect-O-Cell ( offers a similar earpiece device as well as a $39.95 leather phone case lined with a radiation-absorbing fabric.

But some critics caution that such devices may actually increase exposure to radiation by forcing phones to emit more energy to communicate with phone towers. “There’s still some controversy, but all smart money says the only product worth anything is a hands-free set,” says Louis Slesin, editor of Microwave News. “It puts distance between the head and the antenna, and every millimeter counts.”