Mobile phones, skin rashes and tumours

I know I have flagged up plenty of potential problems with the over use of mobile phones, but there are two new developments here. First, the minor one, and according to the British Association of Dermatologists, mobile phones are causing an outbreak of facial rashes, particularly to the cheek and ear where you normally hold the phone. It’s due to the nickel coating on the casing and buttons and is the result of an allergy to the nickel.

You may have already been aware of this effect, particularly if you go in for cheaper and more ‘fun’ jewellery, because nickel is the most common contact allergy in Britain, affecting 30% of the population.

Now it won’t damage your health, but a skin rash can be very irritating and upsetting so if you have noticed this yourself then just hang up your mobile for a few days and see if the rash goes away. A natural remedy is to try bathing the irritation in a mixture of one part vinegar to 15 parts water, and dab it on the affected area. It’s something my mother used on me as a child for sunburn, and it seems to help clear up many skin irritations.

Now for the more serious problem and it comes from a report in the latest issue of the American Journal of Epidemilogy. An Israeli study of more than 500 people has revealed that you could be 50% more likely to develop a tumour in your salivary gland if you constantly use your mobile phone. They studied people who had developed this condition and then compared their mobile phone habits with those of a group of 1,300 healthy people.

The Doctor in charge of the study said that it was ‘preliminary’, but he also said that until more evidence became available, a “precautionary” approach was best, particularly when it comes to children’s use of mobile phones. I couldn’t agree more, and as so many people now spend their working day constantly on their mobile, without using a land line at all, it’s worth considering having at least one ‘mobile-free’ day a week. Sunday might be good, after all it wasn’t called a ‘day of rest’ for nothing.