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May 3, 2008

Scariest Modern Health Risks

From famines and floods to wars and pandemics, the world has always been a dangerous place. But these days, the very innovations we rely on for modern convenience may be ruining our health. Is your cell phone or iPod making you sick? Could your deodorant, antibiotics, or bottled water be toxic?

Computers. Sending the occasional email is unlikely to cause health problems, but people who work with computers every day may confront a host of occupational hazards, including eye strain (thanks to the monitor); carpel tunnel syndrome (a side effect of the mouse); and pain in the lower back, knees, or shoulders (due to that less-than-ergonomic chair). In addition, the sedentary nature of white-collar work--not to mention late hours and the office vending machine--can increase your obesity risk.

Cell phones. Scientists have long speculated that mobile phones may cause cancer, and some studies suggest they may be right. In 2008, frequent cell-phone users were 50 percent more likely to suffer from tumors of the salivary gland than the general population, while another revealed that people who used cellular devices for at least 10 years had an increased risk of developing rare brain tumors. In addition, cell phone use has been linked to sleep disorders and chronic headaches.

iPods. Although the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently gave MP3s a clean bill of health for not interfering with pacemakers, audiologists warn that avid users may be at risk for hearing loss. A 2006 study found that those who listened to the gadgets on full blast for only five minutes could suffer permanent hearing damage. What's more, lab tests conducted by Center for Environmental Health concluded that iPod headphone cords contained high levels of phthalates, a dangerous substance that may hinder sexual development.

Antibiotics. Over the past half-century, scientists have developed more than 150 varieties of antibiotics. But our overreliance on them is resulting in antibiotic resistance--a widespread issue that, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is "one of the world's most pressing public health problems." Since some bacteria that antibiotics used to easily eliminate are becoming resistant, certain ailments, such as pneumonia, meningitis, and ear and sinus infections, are becoming harder to treat. Even more frightening is the emergence of superbugs--antibiotic-resistant staph infections, including MRSA, that can be life-threatening.

Plastic bottles. At this point, plastic bottles are so ubiquitous that it's hard to imagine they could be toxic. But many are made with bisphenol A (BPA)--a chemical that has been linked to cancer, the National Institutes of Health recently announced. A new report by the U.S. National Toxicology Program also revealed that BPA may cause behavioral changes in infants and children, and trigger the early onset of puberty in females. Although further investigation is needed, several large retailers, such as Wal-Mart and CVS, have started pulling these containers from store shelves.

Nail polish. It may look benign, but some brands of nail lacquer (not to mention sunscreen and hair spray) contain dibutyl phthalate (DBP). Although the chemical improves the staying power of polish, DBP has been linked to cancer in lab animals and to reproductive impairments in boys who have been exposed in utero. In response to increasing pressure from consumer watchdog groups, top-selling brands like Avon, Estee Lauder, Revlon, and L'Oreal have already begun removing DBP from their products.

SUVs. Sport utility vehicles continue to be hugely popular, but these car/van hybrids may be too dangerous to drive. According to experts, their high center of gravity makes them prone to roll over in accidents, their oversize dimensions make them more liable to kill other people in standard cars struck by them, and their roofs are more likely to be crushed in a rollover. What's more, these gas-guzzlers contribute to CO2 pollution and global warming, which comes with a laundry list of additional health risks.


Hashim said...

First of all congrats on being blog of the day at PPP

You wrote on a good topic, people are ruining their hearing capability by using headphones and also subjected to greater health risk while using gadgets like cellphones (especially while dribing) etc.

May 5, 2008 at 10:28 AM