Dr. Sylvester Ikhisemojie
Many people have been debating the potential harm that a cell phone can cause an individual for more than two decades. Of particular concern has been the potential that these items of modern life have for causing various types of cancers especially in the head and neck region. Till date, no convincing evidence of their ability to cause such diseases has been found. For one, there has been no alarming increase in the incidence of these cancers even in those nations in which the use of cell phones began early and has outpaced the penetration of these gadgets elsewhere in the world. The obvious conclusion of several studies is essentially that the amount of radiation emitted by these devices remains very low and unlikely to pose a danger to human health even when used constantly.
The focus on telecommunications masts has received less attention than mobile phones whereas it is a ubiquitous presence in much of the world. Those are the structures which emit far stronger radiation. The dose of the radiation is still considered safe and low enough to be compatible with normal life. However, in spite of all the controversies, there is a rising body of evidence within the scientific community which indicates that such radiation as emitted from cell towers can have adverse biological effects around the body. There is evidence that these emissions alter the composition of cells in our body and even alter the deoxyribonucleic acid, DNA, such that an increase in the incidence of various cancers, including leukaemia, could be the result.
It is said that during the first three to five years of living in close proximity to a cell tower, there could be sleep disorders of various types occurring. People who are thus unable to sleep properly then become deficient in melatonin, a hormone in the body that helps bring sleep about, and subsequently cause various immune deficiencies. This state of the body promotes the development and manifestation of various disease states. In the period from about five to seven years, various problems to do with the nervous system become evident. At this time, we have headaches, confusion states and loss of memory. After a period of 10 years, the health damage could become irreversible and even irreparable and this is the usual time when cancers supervene.
In considering the health effects of wireless transmitters, the people who live close to the transmitters, attend school nearby or work in close proximity to them are the people most at risk. They are constantly exposed to radiation for several months or even years and that is when the effects become evident. The problem therefore, with wireless radiation from cell phone masts is not the dose of radiation that the people are exposed to but the cumulative nature of the dosage occurring over such a long time. The focus therefore, is to strive to diminish the effects of such radiation on the people in the community and that is why for one, the masts are erected so high, at least 20 meters high. At this level, damage to the health status of the people of the community is much reduced.
Some researchers have even linked these radiations to certain disease conditions like Alzheimer’s disease, brain cancers of various types, depression and even miscarriage. In the main, these problems can be said to be strongly associated with such radiation. No study has yet shown that there is a direct cause and effect relationship between these towers and the overall health condition of the surrounding community or to specific diseases in the community. It is said that the emissions from these cell phone towers can be transmitted up to one and half kilometers away from where the mast is sited and can therefore cause these effects at that distance. As they affect humans so are animals affected. However, the presence of these towers is now noticeable in every corner of the globe. The effects ought to be so pervasive by now that there ought to be no debate about the potential harm that they can cause. Yet, the whole truth remains unsettled. That is why the attitude to their presence close to where we live varies from the alarm raised by delegate physicians from seven countries who called it a public health emergency to one of benign indifference as you might find in a host of countries in the Third World.
In Nigeria, many people have no demonstrated concerns about the presence of these towers in their midst. They are found right next to some people’s bedrooms in some parts of the country and are seen in the main as a part of development. That is partially correct and there is no question that it helped a great deal in bridging the communication infrastructure in much of the continent. And as with all things that are good, there are negative components too.
Some people, however, have genuine fears about the presence of these structures in their domain. Perhaps, the kind of fear they have is misplaced; no study in Nigeria regarding the situation of these towers close to communities has shown that there are alarming health hazards to fear. What is comforting though, is that right from the start, the regulating agencies in Nigeria were strict and very professional with where and how these masts should be built. That must have helped in a great way to dampen whatever harmful effects might now have become obvious.
Expectedly, constantly improving telecommunications technology should make it possible over time to also reduce the amount of emissions necessary to carry voice and data across a landscape. When that day comes, the dangers now being associated with the situation of these cell phone towers around the country will recede even further. For some people, that day will definitely arrive too late if indeed some of these ailments are associated with such radiation. For others who have had some exposure, the newer technology should help greatly to put some further distance between them and any disease condition associated with the towers. Until anything is proven, Nigerians should not panic and should use their devices freely to improve their lives.
Ask the doctor
Dear doctor, years back, when I menstruate, I never used to feel pain but now I feel much unbearable pain. What is the cause and what can I do to stop it? Thank you. 0703xxxxxxx
You should visit the hospital and get to see a doctor for examination and advice. Depending on how old you are now, you could have developed fibroids or some other condition of the uterus ranging from tuberculosis to cancer that could have made this change happen. Seeing your doctor is where to begin so that the necessary examination from scans to biopsy can be done. That way, the answer will be found.
Dear doctor, I am an avid reader of your column in SUNDAY PUNCH. Is it true that pure honey does not have negative side effects in the human body as a sweetener and it is the best? Thanks. 0806xxxxxxx
There is some truth in what you have said. However, if you consume too much honey, you can gain weight and even develop diabetes. Now if you already have diabetes and therefore use honey as your preferred sweeter it can make your blood sugar control worse.
Dear doctor, I want to enlarge my penis at age 17 because I feel it is small and it is not growing. What do you think about it and if you think it is okay, what products can I use to last long, stop premature ejaculation and also enlarge my penis in length and girth? Also, my testicles seem small, sag too much and when I ejaculate, nothing comes out. What can I do about it? 0818xxxxxxx
Well, if you are already having all these problems at your age, then there may be a deeper biological problem with you. You will need to see a doctor for proper examination and advice. That is the only way to get to the bottom of this problem.
Dear doctor, May God reward you for your labour of love. I am a 38-year-old mother of two aged 10 and 8 and have been on family planning injections for five years now. Of late, I have been having serious migraine and recently, I noticed I am having bowel movements and a slight pain on the left side of my tummy. I have not been menstruating for a year now. Recently, I changed from the three monthly injections to the two monthly injections. Please I need your advice medically. Thank you sir. 0806xxxxxxx
Madam, it is possible that your switch from one type of injectable contraceptive to another is responsible for the range of issues you now have. It is possible that it has nothing to do with what you are going through. Whichever one it is will depend on what your doctor finds when he examines you. I would advice that you see him as a matter of priority.
Dear doctor, I have suffered from malaria off and on since this year began and each time I take the drugs recommended for me I get well. Of late, however, I have been suffering from pains in my ankles, knees, and hips. They are so painful that I can hardly walk around even in the house. My appetite is good and I eat well unlike in the past. I do not experience any chills, fever or headache. I have been involved in a lot physically speaking in moving our office accommodation so I don’t know if that has contributed. I have done a blood test and there was no malaria parasite. What then is the problem? 0803xxxxxxx
This time, based on your complaints, I do not believe that you have malaria or indeed any infection for that matter. I believe you probably have some significant level of fatigue or physical stress based on whatever you have been engaged in doing. A rest may be of far greater benefit at this point than any kind of medication.
Dear doctor, thanks for all your health awareness in SUNDAY PUNCH. Please what could cause ringing in the ears for over a year now? I am 32 years old and have seen several specialists. It is louder when everywhere is quiet. The doctor says my ear drum is intact but sometimes I feel as if fluid is flowing out. Thanks. 0803xxxxxxx
Thank you very much for your support through all these years. Ringing in the ears can occur as a result of specific nerve damage or sometimes as a result of taking certain medications. The nerve damage might occur from certain injuries or infections like viruses. Some common drugs that can cause similar damage leading to ringing in the ears known as tinnitus are quinine, gentamycin and streptomycin. If you were on any of such medications around the time the problem began, you will need to furnish your doctor with that information. If not, then you must see an Ear, Nose and Throat surgeon who will seek to determine what has caused your problem and what best way there is to treat it.
I am now over 30 years of age and my penis size is as small as that of a 14-year-old boy. What treatment can you get for me? 0902xxxxxxx
First, you need to disabuse your mind of the fact there is a standard penis size for a 14-year-old. Some have theirs looking as small as you can imagine and there are the others whose dimensions would leave some married men in the dust. So which one does your own resemble? When that question has been answered, we will be clear whether you need to have treatment at all and for what reason. What I would suggest you do is to see a urologist for examination and the relevant advice.
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