Cell Phone Use May Damage Salivary Glands

Byron J. Richards, Board Certified Clinical Nutritionist

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Cell Phone Use May Damage Salivary Glands
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The radiofrequency electromagnetic fields generated by cell phones are potentially problematic to human health, especially when held in close proximity to the head for extended periods of time. A new study has documented significant free radical damage in the saliva of regular cell phone users, along with impaired function of the salivary glands.

The research used 20 individuals with 8 – 15 years of cell phone use averaging 30 hours per month, compared to a control group. Since cell phones are held in close proximity to the salivary gland when a person is speaking into them, the researchers analyzed saliva to determine potential problems. Unfortunately, they found rather dramatic adverse changes. The flow of saliva was significantly reduced as well as the amount of salivary amylase enzymes (needed for carbohydrate digestion). Multiple markers of free radical damage were detected.

“This suggests that there is considerable oxidative stress on the tissue and glands which are close to the cell phone when in use,” says Dr. Yaniv Hamzany of Tel Aviv University. The researchers were especially concerned that such damage sets the stage for cancer.

While cancer may be the long-term risk, the short-term risk involves dental and digestive health. Saliva contains germ-killing properties. A reduction in salivary flow along with damage to saliva would impair the immune system in the mouth and even throughout the digestive tract.

While most of the individuals in the study were on the phone 30 hours a month, the study found such damage occurring at 8 hours per month of cell phone use. Obviously, the use of a hands free system or using the microphone would reduce the close contact with the salivary glands.

It is worth noting that iodine is highly taken up by the salivary glands, where it acts as a fundamental antioxidant as well as forming iodine compounds that kill germs. Using 1-3 drops of iodine in water and using it as a mouth rinse can help promote salivary gland health, better dental hygiene, and better digestion.

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