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Mobile phones are a pain in the neck

17 May 1999

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It was five years ago today... It has come as a great surprise to many that, after years of abusing mobile phones, peoples' heads have not simply dropped off and rolled across the floor like microwave-roasted beef footballs. How can this be?

Mobile phones are a pain in the neck

By Linda Harrison
Published Monday 17th May 1999 17:02 GMT

Feeling your ears burning used to mean someone was talking about you. Similarly, a pain in the neck referred to a niggling individual who got on your nerves. Now both mean you have been chatting on the phone for too long.

According to a top Nordic survey, 84 per cent of 11,000 mobile users surveyed suffered warmth behind the ear or even burning skin. Memory loss, dizziness, fatigue and headaches were also evident, according to the report in today's Metro newspaper.

The year-long study was carried out by three organisations - Sweden's National Institute for Working Life, SINTEF Unimed in Norway and the Norwegian Radiation Protection Authority. It found nearly a quarter of those questioned had memory loss, nearly half reported headaches and almost two-thirds said they felt abnormally drowsy. Around a third had difficulty concentrating during or just after a call. Symptoms were worse in those under 30, or in the heaviest users. Researcher Dr Gunnhild Oftedal said: "There could be a range of factors for this but we can’t exclude anything related to radiation."

A separate study has revealed that severe neck pain, or phone neck, is caused by tilting your head and talking into a phone for too long. Boffins from Surrey University found that using a handset - be it in the office or on a mobile rather than headset - increased the risk of muscle stiffening, inflammation of tendons and disc troubles. Hence the advent of earpieces, which can be plugged into mobiles, cutting radiation and leaving the head in the normal position. But if your earpiece is in, and your mobile is in your trouser pocket, where does that mean the radiation is leaking to?


Where indeed? Contrary to widespread scaremongering at the time, the mobile phone has failed to kill off large swathes of the population who insist on having the damn thing glued to their ears 24/7. A shame, many would say.

The prophets of doom are still alive and kicking too, having turned their attention to the dangers of siting mobile phone masts next to schools. What they're complaining about is anyone's guess. How else are little Janet and John going to SMS each other during "quiet time"? ®

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