Depressed and forgetful? -- Your phone could be the cause.

In many shoe stores in America during the 1930s, '40s and '50s, you could view an x-ray image that revealed the way your feet fit into a pair of shoes. After putting your feet into a slot at the bottom of a wooden cabinet, you placed your face on a special viewer to see the image. Most of the cabinets had three viewers: one for a child being fitted, one for a parent and one for a shoe salesman.

Dr Ralph W. Moss (one of the foremost authorities on alternative cancer treatments) remembers getting a "brief and eerie glimpse" of the bones in his feet through a Fluoroscope viewer. But his mother was a cautious type and only allowed one quick look. She was right to be cautious. Shoe-Fitting Fluoroscopes were eventually banned because the machines were found to emit a fairly high dose of radiation with little protection.

In a recent Moss Reports e-letter, Dr. Moss offers the Shoe-Fitting Fluoroscope as an example of a technology that was believed to be safe, widely used for a while, then ultimately discarded when it was found to be dangerous. Dr. Moss' article is titled "Do Radio Frequency Energy Fields Cause Cancer?" And he opens his piece with this more specific question: "Do devices such as mobile phones that emit radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (RFEMF), cause cancer?"

The answer: We don't know yet.

Controversy over mobile phones and cancer

All electrically active devices produce electromagnetic fields (EMF). If the device sends or receives radiofrequencies, the EMF becomes an RFEMF.

Dr. Moss notes that the American Cancer Society (ACS) regards his question about a potential link between mobile phone RFEMF and cancer as a "cancer myth." And he takes exception with this quote from Dr Ted Gansler, who is the American Cancer Society Director of Medical Content: Although "a few studies have suggested a link with certain rare types of brain tumors the consensus among well-designed population studies is that there is no consistent association between mobile phone use and brain cancer."

Mobile phones emit low-level, non-ionizing radiation on the same frequency as microwaves. This radiation has been shown to enter the user's head, but what happens when this is repeated over and over, every day, year after year, remains to be seen.

In the e-alert "Is your mobile risking your health?" (18/2/04), I told you about the controversial link between cell phones and cancer. In 2003, Microwave News obtained an internal US Food and Drug Administration memo written in April 1993 that reviewed existing research on microwaves emitted from mobile phones and concluded that the database of studies "suggests that under at least some circumstances these exposures do indeed accelerate the development of cancer by some unknown mechanism."

I was hoping that Dr. Moss' article would reveal a research breakthrough on this topic, but it appears that any such breakthrough may still be years away. Nevertheless, Dr. Moss provides an enlightening update on the situation, along with a variety of potential dangers. For instance, this past summer, Turkish researchers showed that long-term exposure to RFEMF from mobile phones may increase free radical levels in the brain, theoretically raising the risk of brain cancer.

It's hard to imagine the mobile phone going the way of the Shoe-Fitting Fluoroscope, but it might if further studies produce this same result.

In an intriguing side note, Dr. Moss adds: "These researchers found that the increased risk of brain cancer could be substantially offset by administration of the dietary supplement, gingko biloba."

Are you electrosensitive?

Apart from the potential effects of RFEMF on the brain, some people are simply more sensitive than others to EMF. According to a report last month in the Daily Mail, "Tens of thousands of people in the UK are thought to suffer from the condition, called electrosensitivity, yet it is not formally recognized by the medical profession."

But Electrosensitivity is recognized in Sweden, where patients diagnosed with this problem actually receive government grants to replace electric stoves with gas units. In Swedish workplaces, highly insulated cables reduce EMF emissions.

Symptoms of electrosensitivity (which seem to affect mostly women) include headaches, fatigue, depression, memory loss, joint pain and ringing in the ears. Treatment for this unusual condition is simple (although not necessarily convenient or easy): Avoid using electric devices - especially powerful ones such as computers and microwave ovens. Can't live without your mobile phone? Use a hands-free device and put your calls on speakerphone whenever possible.

The Daily Mail article offers a truly eccentric method for protecting yourself from the radiation emitted from phone masts: Line walls with aluminum foil and hang silver-plated curtains over windows and beds. But one person's eccentricity is another person's electrosensitive safety net.

Meanwhile, Dr. Moss says he doesn't take chances. He purchased a sheet of lead from a hardware shop, covered it with flannel for comfort, and places it across his legs when he uses his laptop computer. He reduces further EMF exposure by keeping phone calls brief, and he keeps all electrical appliances away from his bed. He also takes antioxidant supplements to reduce free radical damage caused by EMF.

If you are suffering from any of the symptoms above try to limit your exposure to EMFs and see if you feel any difference.