Khan, M. M. Adverse effects of excessive mobile phone use. Int J Occup Med Environ Health. 2008; 21(4):289-93.
Background and Objective
Research findings indicate that the use of mobile phones may lead to a number of subjective symptoms. The problem of the potential health risks from mobile phone use applies particularly to young people who are the most intensive users. In this connection, the present study was designed to investigate whether the symptoms of ill health reported by medical students in Saudi Arabia may be associated with exposure to radiofrequency radiation emitted by mobile phones.
Materials and Methods
A survey was conducted using a self-administered questionnaire that was designed specifically for this study and contained 14 items regarding health conditions and complaints, as well as the frequency of mobile phone use. Out of the 330 questionnaires distributed, 286 were completed (87% response rate). Among the participants, 74% were males and 26% females. The lower proportion of female participants was partly explained by the lower proportion of females among the medical college students. Statistical test was used for comparisons between daily mobile phone use and different health-related parameters.
Most participants (84%) reported that they had some knowledge of the health effects of mobile phones; 77% of the subjects carried one mobile phone and 23% had more than one phone; 56% reported an average daily mobile phone use of less than 30 minutes, 28% between 30 and 60 minutes, 12% - between 60 and 90 minutes, and 5% more than 90 minutes. Most participants (83%) reported some symptoms of ill health, such as headache, fatigue, impaired concentration, facial dermatitis, memory disturbances, hearing problems, and the sensation of warmth around the ear; 44% of the respondents related their symptoms to mobile phone use. A significant association was found between the reported symptoms and the reported duration of mobile phone use. There was no significant association between the reported duration of mobile phone use and the perceived relation of the symptoms with mobile phone use.
Interpretation and Conclusion
The author concluded that the results of this study indicate an increased sensitivity of young people to radiation emitted by mobile phones and suggested that there is a substantial risk for various health problems in this population. The author believes that, based on the limited available studies on the long-term mobile phone use, there is an evidence for an association between impaired well-being and exposure to electromagnetic fields from mobile phones in young people. The results of the study indicate that mobile phones play an important role in the daily life of medical students. Therefore, the author recommends that their impact on psychology and health should be discussed with the students to prevent harmful effects. The author notes, however, that this field of research is still immature in terms of quantity and quality of available information.