Bluetooth touts itself as the cancer-free wireless tech

If you're worried that your cellphone might be giving you cancer, the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) has a solution for you: Use Bluetooth.

In a post on the official Bluetooth blog, SIG executive director Mike Foley touted Bluetooth as a low-power technology that could negate the risk of cellphone-induced brain cancer by allowing users to talk into their handsets at a distance instead of holding them directly up to their heads.

"[T]here is no need to hold that cell phone to your ear," writes Foley. "Bluetooth wireless headsets offer a safer solution. Why not err on the side of caution and go blue?"

BACKGROUND: Cellphone use 'possibly' a cause of brain cancer, says WHO panel

Foley elaborated by noting that Bluetooth headsets typically transmit with about 1/1,000 of the power of most mobile phones, since "a headset has to send a signal only a few feet from your ear to your phone, but cell phone towers are often a mile of more apart." Foley acknowledged that the link between cellphones and cancer is "still largely unproven," before quoting American Cancer Society Chief Medical Officer Otis Brawley as saying that "if there is a risk, most of it goes away with a wireless earpiece."

Foley's promotion of Bluetooth as a safer way to talk on cellphones came shortly after the World Health Organization released a report stating that there "could be some risk" that regular cellphone usage could increase the likelihood of coming down with glioma, a malignant form of brain cancer. Christopher Wild, the director for the International Agency for Research on Cancer, said yesterday that using hands-free technologies such as Bluetooth could help protect users from increased risk when using their cellphones.

"Given the potential consequences for public health of this classification and findings it is important that additional research be conducted into the long–term, heavy use of mobile phones," he said. "Pending the availability of such information, it is important to take pragmatic measures to reduce exposure such as hands–free devices or texting."

Bluetooth is a low-energy wireless specification that is commonly used today for syncing up mobile devices with headsets or for wirelessly networking PCs with mice and printers. Bluetooth has also emerged as a key technology in the tablet market, as companies such as Research in Motion and Google have built Bluetooth support into their tablet operating systems to help the devices communicate with others. In recent years, the Bluetooth SIG has further refined the technology to enable it for use on devices that require less energy than cellphones or personal computers, such as watches and heart-rate monitors.

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Brad Reed

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