more at
mobile journalism by the UCLA Daily Bruin
Science & Health

‘Cellphones cause cancer’ and other health myths

No, smartphones don't cause cancer. (Creative Commons photo by on Flickr)
No, smartphones don't cause cancer. (Creative Commons photo by on Flickr)

When I got my first cellphone, my mom told me to not put it in my pocket because it would give me cancer. I rolled my eyes and told her that that was stupid, but I always worried a little when I went to slip my phone into my jeans.

It’s a worry that many share, largely because this myth rears its head every so often. It often expands to encompass not only cellphones, but also laptops and microwaves. However, based on current evidence, it is just that – a myth. But now, although we can use our cellphones as much as we want (which might very well be every waking moment), we may have to worry about meat giving us cancer.

Keith Diehl, a radiation technology instructor at Santa Rosa Junior College, says that this myth started because “the word ‘radiation’ causes fear in the population.” But every type of technology emits radiation since the word radiation describes the way that energy moves through space – that energy can take the form of light, signals and much more.

Cellphones and laptops emit radiation, but the type and amount of radiation that is produced (low levels of nonionizing radiation) can’t even penetrate the human body.

Harmful ionizing radiation – the kind found in X-ray machines – is powerful enough to displace electrons orbiting a nucleus, which then leads to the electron disrupting DNA bonds. This is what causes biological problems, like cancer or other noncancerous tumor formation, or even genetic problems which can then affect future generations.

But nonionizing radiation cannot do this – it’s simply not strong enough. Even microwaves, many parents’ secret fear, do not emit harmful radiation nor do they “zap” the nutrients out of food.

For there to be any change in expert opinions on this, there would have to be much more extensive and in-depth studies. “The radiofrequency radiation used in cellphones may affect the brain in different ways, but scientific evidence has not been proven to cause cancer or tumor formation in animal or human studies. An extensive epidemiologic study would need to be conducted to further study if there is a direct link between the radiofrequency radiation used in cellphones and tumor or cancer formation,” said Diehl.

Although we don’t have to worry about our household appliances giving us cancer, we still aren’t only cursed by genetics or sheer bad luck – instead we get to contend with food that tries to kill us. It turns out that eating processed or raw meat might actually increase our chances of getting cancer. Granted, if you have that meat-lovers’ pizza at dinner, you will not die, nor you will suddenly collapse if you have a few pieces of bacon at breakfast. If you suddenly decide to go on an all-meat diet, however, you might run into trouble.

The World Health Organization recently categorized processed meat as Group 1, meaning that there is sufficient evidence linking the consumption of processed meat (like that found in hot dogs, beef jerky and sausages) to colorectal cancer.

Red meat has been classified as Group 2A, which means that limited evidence has suggested a strong positive association between consumption of red meat and colorectal cancer, as well as strong mechanistic evidence suggesting a connection.

So maybe you should avoid a third hot dog, or skip the steak at dinner, but at least you can curl up with your laptop for as long as you want with no fear.

Comments ()

Campus news

Throwback Thursday, Week 5: Class conflicts

Enrollment issues were on a whole other level in 1978. (Daily Bruin file photo)
Enrollment issues were on a whole other level in 1978. (Daily Bruin file photo)

Enrollment is terrible, it’s always been terrible, it always will be terrible.

On Monday, just before the winter class catalog was released and less than a week before students received their enrollment appointments, the administration announced that Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate test credits will no longer count toward advancing students’ enrollment priorities.

For those who relied on high school credits to keep them a little ahead of the game, the hour before their enrollment window begins – during which you refresh the Schedule of Classes page over and over again, staring down the last open spot in a class limited to 150 people – is about to get a little more stressful.

It could be worse though.

We could have one computer – that’s singular – charged with managing more than 20,000 students’ enrollment. That computer could break for a quarter of the time it was supposed to be active within a two-week period. Administrators could refuse to abscond late enrollment fees and place a $3 charge on students for something that wasn’t their fault.

On April 18, 1978, Liz Thaler wrote a news article in The Bruin explaining that a campus-wide blackout a month before damaged the enrollment computer which was “highly sensitive to changes in temperature or humidity.”

But this isn’t 1978 anymore.

While the conditions might be equally miserable, the problems we face today are worlds apart from those faced by Thaler and her peers.

The advent of MyUCLA – and the widespread availability of computers necessary to make it possible – has removed most technological difficulties, but only to give rise to a complicated system of values and exceptions that determine whether you are important enough to get into the classes you need.

The policy change might feel very arbitrary, especially for students who expected their high school experience to count for something when enrolling in college classes – after all, that was the point of taking them, right?

But the change reflects the increasing diversity of higher education. By most accounts, there are a multitude of good reasons for the change. AP and IB credits have long represented a gap in privilege between high schools that can and can’t afford to provide students with college-level classes. While both services have attempted to accommodate more underprivileged students in recent years, the gap remains.

While students previously came from largely similar socio-economic backgrounds, the playing field today is less level and, in the grand scheme of things, prioritizing students who had the opportunities to take college-level courses in high school is far worse than arbitrary – it’s irresponsible.

So if you find yourself looking back at the good old days – when a broken computer was the crux of students’ problems – with an air of nostalgia, then stop. You’re a classist. Literally.

Comments ()


Food Day raising awareness about preservation, healthy habits

UC President Janet Napolitano speaks at UC Food Day 2015. (Jasmine Arooni/Daily Bruin)
UC President Janet Napolitano speaks at UC Food Day 2015. (Jasmine Arooni/Daily Bruin)

Caught in the new age of self-proclaimed “foodies,” I decided to take my fascination with food past the level of intricate and drool-prompting Instagram photos. I wanted to know about the part of food that you can’t stick a filter on.

Organized by the UCLA Healthy Campus Initiative, “Food Day 2015: Save The Food From! Farm to Table” was a wonderful way for students and faculty interested in food, health, and campus affairs to get involved and informed. The event held last Wednesday, was a star-studded affair, with special presenters like Chancellor Gene Block, Ernest Miller and University of California President Janet Napolitano.

President Napolitano spoke briefly about the University of California Global Food Initiative and fellowship offered to UC students. The program, called Food Fellows, was just extended an additional two years and has been extended to every UC campus, with $75,000 in funds going towards student food security and access, according to Napolitano. Through the Global Food Intiative, internships have been created for 20 students through a food studies course, working in conjunction with the Food Fellows program to address issues of food security and literacy. With the new humanities course, UCLA is on its way to the creation of a food studies minor.

The Healthy Campus Initiative aims to make UCLA the healthiest campus in America. Who knew that level healthiness on campus would join the ranks of bragging rights for students like academics or sports long have? Universities have seen some big changes in the past couple of years, and health has been one of them. With a modern narrowed focus on campus health and student wellness, resources have become available about mental, sexual and nutritional wellness. As a part of this, recognized physicians, researchers and politicians have become involved in campus efforts towards student wellness.

Good health has been recognized as a key component to keeping students informed about preventative measures, developing healthy habits on campus and also preparing them to maintain such habits in the real world. Schools are making health initiatives so accessible for students because they are aware that unhealthy habits stem from ease and accessibility, hence the rise of stereotypes like the “freshman 15″ or general perception that college students sweep matters of their wellness under the rug. There has been an increase in readily available resources like responsibly raised or grown organic foods at dining halls, classes capturing the educational side of health and nutrition and initiatives like free flu shots on campus. Healthy living is moving towards becoming a collegiate staple.

According to the Save The Food Campaign, a third of produced food worldwide goes to waste, prompting the Global Food Initiative’s zero waste goal. Next to paper waste, food waste is the second largest source of waste by volume, according to the World Resources Institute. This issue is especially prominent on college campuses, especially with the resources needed to keep on-campus dining efficient and cost effective. Many campuses have turned to tray free dining and new recipes that can incorporate what society looks at as “ugly fruit” or atypical food parts, like broccoli stems or apple cores. This way, universities are able to encourage students, by example, to change their behavior and attitudes towards wasting food.

Proper preservation of food is an art in itself, with many culinary institutes offering classes on how to utilize such techniques. A few include dehydration, canning, fermenting, and pickling among others. Though these methods are difficult to carry out if eating at a dining hall, it is easy to become informed and start practicing such habits when possible in order to move towards effective preservation. Miller, the co-founder of Slow Food LA, gave a presentation on such techniques, showing some examples and posing food as the foundation for civilization and culture, serving as part of the basis for which family, society and economy is built upon.

For me, the event was an effective and informative way to put the issue of food waste on the forefront of a campus wide revolution, raising awareness about the issue and showing students how they can integrate the issue into their collegiate careers.

Comments ()

Campus Life

Exchanging former theater passions for undeclared possibilities

College life is full of twists, turns and unexpected outcomes.
College life is full of twists, turns and unexpected outcomes.

I came into UCLA last year as a theater major. What may surprise some is that I was a theater major.

With an acceptance rate for the major of less than 10%, theater students are a rare breed here. Applying to the school did not stop with just the general University of California application, but consisted of interviews, portfolio analyses and auditions. The preparation that went into applying was a long process that began my sophomore year by attending art classes three times a week. The majority of my free time was spent reading and analyzing plays and doing research for future pieces that I would add to my portfolio. Two years may seem like a lot, but some of my peers had dedicated 10 or more.

Regardless, UCLA thought I was qualified to get in for costume design and it was a great honor, and I figured that all those hours I spent in front of an easel were worth it. I wasn’t going to waste any time. I developed an agenda: graduate college with a degree in theater, gain plenty of experience, work on my favorite television shows and movies by designing costumes, maybe become friends with celebrities on the way and hopefully win an Emmy. It was a long shot, but those were my dreams and I was one step closer to achieving them.

As I went to rehearsal with my theater family of 67 until 11 p.m. each night, I realized that they were fully invested while I was just trying to get by. That’s when I began to doubt my skills and desire to pursue theater and film. I just didn’t love it as much as the rest of my peers. I could see them dedicate every ounce of their energy to each rehearsal and show, while I was just passing through the quarter just doing what I had to do to graduate.

The thought of dropping theater scared me. I thought I had a distinct plan and now it was all a waste. What would I even change majors to? I was already so behind in General Education classes and had dedicated so much time to theater that I lacked a presence in any other clubs or organizations. I had a family and a rare label, and now I would lose them to become just another lost undeclared student.

As much as I disliked the idea, I knew it had to be done. I wasn’t interested in wasting another three years unhappy and simply floating by in classes I had no interest in.

So now I am currently undeclared, on a exploration to find a new major and have actually been taking classes that fascinate me. I have joined different social organizations and a vast range of clubs to get involved with and meet new people.

As of now, I no longer have a specific plan for my future, but in the meantime, I am happy with where I stand and am truly excited for the rest of my college career.

Comments ()


#HashitOut Episode 4: Star Wars and Drake

(Kelly Brennan/Daily Bruin senior staff)
(Kelly Brennan/Daily Bruin senior staff)

#HashItOut is back. This week, Digital Managing Editor Eldrin Masangkay and Social Media Director Francesca Manto talk about two hashtags that have been dominating Twitter for the past few days. Join in on the discussion about “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” and the new Drake music video.

Comments ()

Page 2 of 15612345...102030...Last »