7 Surprising Ways Cell Phones Affect Your Health

In recent years, public fears over the radiation emitted from cell phones have led to several theories about the health conditions this radiation might engender.

Almost invariably, the assertions that the use of cell phones may lead to a higher risk of brain cancer, that their use by pregnant women may result in badly behaved children -- even a video that suggested that the waves from two cell phones could be used to cook an egg -- have been discredited by scientific investigation.

"Current scientific evidence doesn't indicate any adverse health outcomes associated with exposure to radio frequency energy from cell phones," U.S. Food and Drug Administration spokeswoman Peper Long told ABCNews.com last May.

"Although there have been reports of negative health effects from low levels of radio frequency energy, these reports have not been replicated or confirmed."

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So those who suspect their phones are frying their brains can likely rest easy. However, research and anecdotes have suggested a number of other means by which cell phones may adversely affect health -- and possibly not in the way you might think.

1. Paging Dr. Pestilence: Doctors' Dirty Cell Phones

New research released Thursday suggests that one cell phone-related health threat that many people face may not be from their own phones at all -- but from their doctors' mobile devices.

In a study published in the journal Annals of Clinical Microbiology, researchers at Ondokuz Mayis University in Samsun, Turkey screened the mobile phones of 200 health care workers in hospitals for germs that are known to be dangerous to human health.

What the researchers found was that 94.5 percent of the phones tested -- nearly 19 out of 20 -- were contaminated with some kind of bacteria. Worse, some of the bacteria that the researchers found were known "superbugs" -- bacteria that are resistant to one or more commonly used antibiotics.

Despite this, the researchers found that only about 10 percent of the health care workers studied cleaned their cell phones on a routine basis.

"Mobile phones are frequently-used devices with clean or dirty hands in daily practice, including in hospitals," Dr. Ahmet Dilek of the Ondokuz Mayis University team told ABCNews.com. "[W]e found that most of the medical professionals do not clean their own cell phones, and most of the [unclean] phones carried important hospital pathogens."

Dr. Charles Gerba, a microbiologist and germ expert at the University of Arizona in Tucson, has performed similar studies on cell phones. He said that his past research, too, has found that cell phones are a haven for a variety of microbes -- some of which are pretty nasty.

"We have found [the superbug] MRSA on several cell phones," he said. "So we certainly find a lot of stuff on them -- particularly the flip kind, since they have surfaces that do not dry out."

The solution to this problem may be decidedly low tech -- disinfectant spray and a paper towel.

"I think that they should wipe [their cell phones] down with a disinfectant wipe, or spray a towel with disinfectant and wipe the phones off," Gerba said. "They should be doing that at least once a day, if not maybe twice a day."

2. When Cell Phone Hazards Hit the Road

While the radiation that emanates from cell phones may not be enough to affect our brains, the conversations themselves might.

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