Apple Watch Raises Health Concerns — Will Wearable Tech Cause Cancer?
There are new concerns over the safety of the Apple Watch and similar wearable devices even though they are actually old concerns considering we all got scared over the radiation emitted by smartphones years ago before getting past it. However, with the Apple Watch on the way and smartwatches on the rise, the old familiar fear is back: are these things that we can't live without actually hurting us?
That's the question raised in a dubious New York Times article about the tiny amounts of radiation emitted by smart devices, which is nice and timely due to the impending release of the Apple Watch on April 24.
"We have long suspected that cell phones, which give off low levels of radiation, could lead to brain tumors, cancer, disturbed blood rhythms and other health problems if held too close to the body for extended periods," the piece from the New York Times' Style section reads. "Yet here we are in 2015, with companies like Apple and Samsung encouraging us to buy gadgets that we should attach to our bodies all day long."
Well, okay. Guess we should all just drop our current standard of living and doing business and go back to landlines and phone booths. At least that movie with Colin Farrell won't seem outdated anymore.
Then, the article goes on to say there there is no "definitive research on the health effects of wearable computers" and that we can only "hypothesize a bit" based on current research of cell phone radiation.
Oh, good. Fears averted — except the writer goes on, citing a World Health Organization study from 2011 that found cell phones are "possibly carcinogenic" and about "as harmful as certain dry-cleaning chemicals and pesticides." That same panel found coffee to be harmful.
Then, the writer mentions a Swedish report that found talking on a cell phone for a long time could "triple the risk of a certain kind of brain cancer." However, as Slate points out, that's the only study to find such a connection. Meanwhile, millions of people continue to use smartphones with nary a hint of a rise in brain cancer cases.
Slate lobs more doubt in The New York Times' direction regarding the qualifications of its supposed "expert," Dr. Joseph Mercola, a guy who practices alternative medicine. As if that doesn't raise enough alarms, Slate's writer explains Mercola has been ordered by the Food and Drug Administration to quit making illegal claims about the medicine he sells through his site on three separate occasions, that Mercola is not only against vaccinations but is also kind of a jerk about it, and he isn't even sure how vaccines work. Mercola also sells "remedies" that heal cell phone radiation exposure, which is pretty convenient.
And that's the gist of the New York Times article — nothing's been proven and a snake oil seller is suddenly an expert for some reason. For an extra jab at technology's sake, the Times writer notes that Apple declined to comment and Samsung could not comment, as if the companies' silence implies some sort of guilt. More likely, the wearable makers know it's a waste of time to comment on scare pieces.
So basically, we're fine wearing and using our tech for now. Until we start seeing people dying from tumors that are proven to be directly connected to cell phone and wearable tech use, there is no reason to raise a panic. But if you want to be really, really careful, you could take after Michael McKean's character in Better Call Saul and quiver underneath a "space blanket" the rest of your life, away from the wireless radiation that could or could not be (so far it's not) poisoning the world.