International Journal of Occupational Medicine and Environmental Health 2008;21(4):289 – 293 DOI 10.2478/v10001-008-0028-6
ADVERSE EFFECTS OF EXCESSIVE MOBILE PHONE USE
MUHAMMAD MUJAHID KHAN King Saud University, Riyadh King Khalid University Hospital, Department of Anatomy, College of Medicine
Abstract Introduction: Research findings indicate that the use of mobile phones may lead to a number of symptoms such as headache, impaired concentration and memory, and also fatigue. Materials and Methods: The present study was designed to investigate whether the symptoms of ill health reported by young people may be associated with the use of mobile phone (MP) and to analyze its influence on health and development of medical students. The questionnaire was designed specifically for this study and contained items regarding health condition and health complaints as well as the frequency of MP use. The response rate was 86.6% (286 of 330 forms, completed by 73.77% males and 26.22% females). Results: Most of the subjects (83.57%) had some knowledge about the adverse effects of MP use. 76.92% of the students carried one mobile, and 23.08% more than one. 55.94%, of the subjects reported the average daily MP use of less than 30 min, 27.97%, of 30–60 min, 11.53%, of 60–90 min and 4.54% of more than 90 min. 16.08% of the subjects complained of headache and 24.48% of fatigue. Impaired concentration was reported by 34.27% of respondents, memory disturbances by 40.56%, sleeplessness by 38.8%, hearing problems by 23.07%, and facial dermatitis by 16.78%. The sensation of warmth within the auricle and behind/around the ear was reported by 28.32%. Out of 286 subjects who participated in this study, 44.4% related their symptoms to mobile phone use. Conclusions: The findings of the present study indicate that mobile phones play a large part in the daily life of medical students. Therefore, its impact on psychology and health should be discussed among the students to prevent the harmful effects of mobile phone use. Key words: Effects, Mobile phone, Excessive, Medical students
INTRODUCTION There is a growing concern about the possible hazards that electromagnetic waves emitted by mobile phone (MP) pose to human health. Mobile phones have become commonly used throughout the world within a short period of time. The problem of the potential health risk applies particularly to young people who are the most intensive MP users. In the present study, the target population were the medical students in Saudi Arabia. The project was undertaken to investigate whether the symptoms of ill health reported by young people may be associated with MP use and to analyze its influence on their health and development. We also assessed data on the duration and frequency of MP use. The studies reported worldwide have tried to evaluate a potential link between adverse health effects and mobile
phones and the broadcasting stations . There are some data suggesting that exposure from mobile phones can affect the neural activity . Although there is no clear evidence for adverse physiological effects of electromagnetic fields (EMF) at the levels used by mobile phones, there is a widespread public concern that EMF may have a harmful potential. As the mobile phones are usually held close to the ear, it is appropriate to study the effects on the hearing, vision, memory, concentration, sleep and other functions that may be related to headache and migraine . Mobile phone users often complain of a burning or heating sensation within the auricle area . The increase in temperature during MP use may be due to electric power dissipation and radio frequency (RF) exposure . Several reports indicated that non-thermal electromagnetic
Received: February 22, 2007. Accepted: May 29, 2008. Address reprint requests to M.M. Khan, Department of Anatomy, College of Medicine, King Khalid University Hospital, King Saud University, P.O. Box 2925. Riyadh 11461. K.S.A. (e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org).
but none of them have reached definite conclusions. The number of questionnaires necessary for the study was assessed using the simple random
Table 1. but their project involved only female university students and had several limitations.0001 < 0.0001 < 0.33 45.38 76.15
P < 0.03 93.60 33.53 4.0010 < 0. General considerations regarding mobile phone use by medical students Parameter No.24 6.30 76.0001 < 0.93 49.0001 < 0. Therefore.97 11. MP — mobile phone.0001 < 0.5400
IJOMEH 2008. Epidemiologic. College of Medicine.76
Daily MP use 30–60 min 60–90 min 24. cellular and animal studies have been carried out.38 57.76 92.92 23.39 45. these devices may have an adverse effect on the health of the patients as well as interfere with the highly sensitive electronic medical devices . As the medical students who carry mobile phones also study and work in the hospital. These authors did not generally exclude a possibility of increased health risk due to MP use.75 40.
Percentage of study population (%) 76.67 60. KHAN
radiation such as from mobile phones and base stations may promote cancer .94 27.21(4)
. the usage of mobile phones has dramatically increased .99
≤ 30 min 5. Riyadh.45 14.35 30.0001.0001 < 0.16 39. of mobile phones carried by the students 1 MP > 2 MPs Daily MP use ≤ 30 min 30–60 min 60–90 min ≥ 90 min Self-rated health condition Very good Good Fair
Statistical analysis performed using Z test.0040 < 0.M. The questionnaire was designed specifically for this study and contained 14 items regarding health condition and complaints as well as the frequency of mobile phone use (Tables 1 and 2).91 42.74 78.92 69.69 39. Saudi Arabia. King Saud University. commerce. Therefore. P < 0.39 37. this report presents an overview of the current knowledge on the impact of radiofrequency waves on the health of medical students in Saudi Arabia.81 75. Percentage of health complaints related to MP use Health complaint Chronic headache Impaired concentration Impaired memory Fatigue Sleeplessness Hearing problem Skin disease Warmth around the ear Relation to MP use
Abbrevation as in Table 1.92 84. The evolution of cellular phones has been one of the fastest in the history of innovation .18 13. however.77 62.54 30. Our goal was also to contribute to increasing social awareness of the health problems associated with the use of these devices.ORIGINAL PAPERS
MATERIALS AND METHODS A survey using a self-administered questionnaire was conducted among second year medical students at the Department of Anatomy.48
≥ 90 min 30. They are now an essential part of business. and communication.46 15.23 38.
Table 2. the present study was designed to investigate a link between the use of mobile phones and their adverse health effects in the population of Saudi medical students.78 45.03 16.67 48. Over the last decade.61 46.62 6.08 55.57 27.35 28. their use may lead to health problems.93 16.  have developed a cellular phone dependence questionnaire (CPDQ) to perform a similar study. Toda et al.83 0.
The sensation of warmth within the auricle and behind/around the ear was reported by 28. Most of the subjects (83. The different health-related parameters were compared with the daily MP use.32 16.54% it lasted more than 90 min. 286 (86.11 30.99% as fair (Fig.33 32.00 18. Self-rated health condition. 2).4% of respondents related their symptoms to MP use. 1. 62.97% it ranged between 30–60 min.53% between 60–90 min. for 11. The data from respondents who reported health problems such as neck trauma in a car accident. The health problems were also compared between male and female students and a significant difference was observed with respect to some health complaints (Table 3).08% complained of headache.57%) reported some symptoms of ill health: 16.3%) admitted that they had some knowledge of the harmful effects of mobile phones on human health.21 34.365 0.78%.33 45.23 21.
Males 14.27% of impaired concentration. Out of the 330 copies distributed among the students. For 55.23 21.48% of fatigue.
Table 3.326 < 0. chronic sinusitis. for 27.05. A total of 330 medical students were invited to participate in the present study.077 < 0.154 < 0.00 36. by gender Health complaint Chronic headache Impaired concentration Impaired memory Fatigue Sleeplessness Hearing problem Skin disease Warmth around the ear Relation to MP use
Abbrevation as in Table 1. 2.92% of the subjects reported carrying one mobile while 23.32% (Fig.00 37.08% more than one. or arterial hypertension. Percentage of health complaints related to MP use.66 28.ADVERSE EFFECTS OF EXCESSIVE MOBILE PHONE USE
Females 20.22% by females) and were eventually subject to analysis.77% by males and 26.476
IJOMEH 2008. The percentage of female participants is lower than that of male participants also because in this medical college.049 < 0. 30.8%) and hearing problems (23. A significant relationship was found
Fig. and 34.94%.6%) were completed (73. 76. the average daily MP use was found to be less than 30 min. were excluded.12 41.
for daily MP use of a longer duration (Table 2).77% assessed their health condition as very good.56%). 1).33
P < 0.66 21. The symptoms and health complaints reported by the subjects in no case required a medical check-up or taking any medication. sleeplessness (38.07%).00 30.80 44. Statistical Analysis Chi-square test was used for comparisons between daily MP use and different health-related parameters.80 41. 44.21(4)
. Facial dermatitis was reported by 16.069 < 0.
RESULTS Most of the subjects (84.437 < 0. The most prevalent symptoms related to MP use were memory disturbances (40.24% as good and 6.159 < 0. The data were assumed to be statically significant at p < 0. and for 4. 24. Health complaints reported by medical students. the number of female students in total does not reach 50% of the number of male students.
 who carried out a similar research have concluded that one cannot exclude that these health problems may be due to exposure to EMF emitted by mobile phones.19]. impairment in collagen tissue distribution and separation of collagen bundles in the dermis. It should be noted that the auditory system is the first biological structure to be entered by the electromagnetic fields from mobile phones.78% of the medical students suffered from skin problems which they related to MP use (Table 2). Most of the long-term studies conclude that the use of MP is a health risk factor. In the present study.07% of the students in our study reported a hearing problem of some kind and associated it with MP use (Table 2).ORIGINAL PAPERS
DISCUSSION The society as a whole and especially the health professionals should intensify health education activities regarding the use of mobile phones. and some data is available to support the safety of MP use .21(4)
. a 30-min daily use of MP produced no short-term effects on the human sensory cortex. Large controlled studies are required before confirming the effects of EMF on humans. and the results of the animal studies should be interpreted with caution when considering their application to humans. 16. In the present study. papillaomatosis. There are many animal studies showing that electromagnetic waves have a wide range of damaging effects on different body systems . increased granular cell layer in epidermis. These data are supported by Ozguner et al. cellular and animal studies have been carried out. Some statistical evidence points out that the use of mobiles may cause headache. 
shows no statistically significant differences between the audiological signals recorded for different study groups. and the impact on psychology and health should be discussed among the students and their parents to prevent the harmful effects of mobile phone use. These studies. there is a valid evidence for an association between impaired well-being and exposure to EMF from mobile phones among young people. increased carelessness and forgetfulness. calls for a further research to investigate the underlying reasons. The explanation should be sought through further experimental and epidemiologic studies.M. As long as adverse health effects cannot be ruled out with some degree of certainty. but none of them has reached definite conclusions because of the insufficient time perspective to evaluate the effects of the new and still evolving communication technologies . As far as the medical students are concerned. at least for a short-term MP use. as 23. As reported by Yuasa et al. and therefore its impact on psychology and health should be discussed with the students to prevent the harmful
IJOMEH 2008.  have denied any adverse effects of mobile phone emissions on the body functions. They reported such findings as increased thickness of the stratum corneum. atrophy of epidermis.  who observed histopathologic changes in the skin of EMF-exposed animals. it seems reasonable to instruct young students and their parents about a prudent use of mobiles . and thus it is suggested that excessive use should be avoided and social awareness of the potential health effects be increased through health promotion activities [18. as well as decreased reflex and a clicking sound in the ears . The findings of the present study indicate that mobile phones play a large part in the daily life of medical students. extreme irritation. However. basal cell proliferation. the present findings are inconsistent with their results. however. Our findings revealed that mobile phones play an important part in their daily life. they could not exclude a possibility of long-term effects. However. Epidemiologic. the electromagnetic waves emitted by mobiles may interfere with various electronic medical devices in the hospital where they have their clinical practice . Szyjkowska et al. . However. Sievert et al. are limited to the short-term use of mobiles. The analysis of the data reported by Galloni et al. Based on the limited studies available. similar studies in humans are rather limited. The results of this study indicate an increased sensitivity of young students to this kind of radiation and suggest that there is a substantial risk for various health problems in this population. the large number of young students complaining of health problems in general and of impaired concentration in particular.
Carlberg M.20(6–10):133–9.26(6):510–9. Bitz AK. Lovisolo GA.1186/1471-2407-4-77 6. Toxicol Ind Health 2004. Tognola G. Turqut-Balik D. Radiat Res 2005.
8. Chu LF. Eriksson M. Pol Merk Lek 2005. however. Szyjkowska A. Saudi Med J 2004. McKinney PA. Arch Androl 2006.132(3):451–5. DOI: 10. Schüz J. Yuasa K. Cesur G.27(4). KSA. Bioelectromagnetics 2005. Koyu A.59(4):383–6. Pathol Biol (Paris) 2005.53(1):30–4. Abdulsalam Madkhali. Hamblin DL. et al. Communication in critical care environments: mobile telephones improve patient care. Spong J. Rampil IJ. Croft RJ. Bortkiewicz A.92(7):637–43. that this research field is still immature with regard to the quantity and quality of available data. for his immense support to this project. Goldman JM. Nippon Eiseigaku Zasshi. Mild KH.
1. Can mobile phone emissions affect auditory functions of cochlea or brain stem? Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg 2005 Mar. Szymczak W. 17.117(4):900–5. 2005. Skin temperature increase caused by a mobile phone: a methodological infrared camera study.1136/bmj. Anatomy Department. Thuroczy G. Mobile phone-related hazards and subjective hearing and vision symptoms in the Saudi population. Musaed Al-Fayez. Morimoto K. Electromagnetic fields from mobile phones do not affect the inner auditory system of Sprague-Dawley rats. Bioelectromagnetics 2006.102(2): 535–41.
IJOMEH 2008. Derias EM. Riyadh. Sommer AM.4:77. Growing concern over the safety of using mobile phones and male fertility. Oftedal G. Okabe S. Aydin G. Toda M. 2004. Amir S. Gazvani R. Balik HH. 2. Bioelectromagnetics 2005. 13. tension and sleep disturbance in Saudi population. Sievert U.18(1):53–7. Tognola G. Ruskin KJ. Cellular phones and cancer: current status. Int J Occup Med Environ Health 2005. Mobile phone use and risk of glioma in adults: case-control study. 3.19(112):529–32. Int Arch Occup Environ Health. Swerdlow AJ. Soto RG. Clin Neurophysiol 2006. headache. Use of cellular or cordless telephones and the risk for nonHodgkin’s lymphoma. Stough C. Piscitelli M.164(6):798–804. Ravazzani P.38720.Suppl 7:S45–50. Stefanis P. MakowiecDąbrowska T.332:883–7. Al-Khalaiwi T. Parazzini M. Al-Drees AM. Effects of thirty minutes’ mobile phone use on the human sensory cortex. 208(1–2):68–78. Lewis-Jones DI. Meo SA. Lutman ME. Sundstrom C. King Saud University. Johnsson A. 18. Prevention of mobile phone-induced skin tissue changes by melatonin in rat: an experimental study. 19.25(6):732–6. Muir KR.ADVERSE EFFECTS OF EXCESSIVE MOBILE PHONE USE
effects of their use. and Yousef Khojah from the King Saud University.265–73. 14. Tarusawa Y. Cem Ozcan I.55. Hardell L. Straume A. Pinto R.687975. Wood AW. Cellular phone dependence tendency of female university students. Pau HW. Galloni P. Lerchl A.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT The author is thankful to Dr. Bell S. One has to note. for their technical assistance. 5. Sultan Ayub Meo for a critical review of the manuscript and to Mr. 12. The author extends deep appreciation to Dr.78(8):625–32. Hansen VW. BMJ 2006. et al.21(4)
. Streckert J. Anesth Analog 2006 Feb. Chairman. Kubo K. Hanajima R. Influence on the mechanisms of generation of distortion product otoacoustic emissions of mobile phone exposure. Hear Res 2005. 11. Molnar F. Schoemaker MJ. Hepworth SJ. Meo SA. Parazzini M. 16. van Tongeren MJ. Arai N. Mollaoglu H. Balikci K. Marzouk (MSc) for the statistical analysis of data. Subjective symptoms related to mobile phone use — a pilot study. No effects of GSM-modulated 900 MHz electromagnetic fields on survival rate and spontaneous development of lymphoma in female AKR/J mice. dizziness. Gökalp O. Association of mobile phone radiation with fatigue. Mobile phone use and exposures in children. Ozguner F. Monden K. 15. Bull Cancer 2005. DOI 10. 10. The sensitivity of human event-related potentials and reaction time to mobile phone-emitted electromagnetc field. He is also indebted to medical students: Tareq Al-Salamah. A survey study on some neurological symptoms and sensations experienced by long-term users of mobile phones. Drakeley A.52(1):9–14. Eggert S. 9. Colonna A. 7. 4. Nojima T. BMC Cancer 2004.