More than three-billion people have them worldwide. More than 90-percent of the Western world uses them. Americans average about 13 hours a month talking on them.
We're talking about cell phones.
But what you may not know is that there could be a downside to using them.
Americans love to talk -- many with phones glued to their ears.
Some talk more than they should.
In many ways, cell phones have become an absolute necessity.
But before you take that call, there are some risks you should know about. Men: beware! A new study shows cell phone usage may be linked to infertility problems.
"There was degradation in the quality of the sperm in the group which was exposed to the cell phone for one hour," explains Ashok Agarwal, Ph.D., director of the Center for Reproductive Medicine at the Cleveland Clinic.
Men who used their cell phones for more than four hours per day had the lowest quality of sperm. Another recent study showed heavy cell phone use is linked to a 50-percent increased risk for developing tumors of the salivary gland.
Studies show it takes twice as long for a person to fall asleep after talking on a cell phone for just 30 minutes.
And here's another downside: You could get what doctors call "mobile phone dermatitis," or a rash, in reaction to the nickel in some cell phones.
Your hands aren't free of risk either. Those who send a lot of texts may be at risk for Blackberry thumb -- sore digits from overuse and repetition.
So next time, you might want to hold that call.
Experts recommend using hands-free devices and hold the phone away from your body when you're talking.
Shorter, less frequent calls may also be a good precautionary step.
CELL PHONE DANGERS: REPORT #1548
Cell phones are everywhere. It is estimated that more than 90 percent of the Western world uses cell phones. Some recent estimates show that more than 3 billion people have cell phones worldwide. As the technology becomes cheaper and more accessible, its usage will likely increase among adults and children. While the device is undoubtedly convenient, several new studies show that cell phones may be harmful.
A recent study published in the Journal of Epidemiology found heavy cell phone users were subject to a higher risk of benign and malignant tumors of the salivary gland. Those who used a cell phone heavily on the side of the head where the tumor developed were found to have an increased risk of about 50 percent for developing a tumor of the main salivary gland compared to those who did not use cell phones.
A study conducted by researchers at the Cleveland Clinic found cell phone use may be linked to infertility problems. Men who used their cell phones for more than four hours per day had the lowest quality of sperm.
Nickel allergy is common, and people who are allergic to nickel may get a rash on their cheek or ear if they spend a lot of time talking on a cell phone containing nickel. They might also get a rash on their fingers if they send lots of text messages, according to the British Association of Dermatologists. Not all cell phones contain nickel. Recently, researchers at Brown University tested 22 wireless communication devices and found 10 of them contained nickel.
Researchers at Loughborough University in England found that after a 30-minute exposure to cell phone signals in talk mode, people took nearly twice as long to fall asleep as they did when the phone had been off or in standby mode. The scientists believe the effect probably reflects the time it takes the brain to relax after being agitated by the phone's electrical field.
Experts from the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute suggest limiting cell phone exposure. Some of their tips include not allowing children to use a cell phone, except for emergencies. The developing organs of a fetus or child are the most likely to be sensitive to any possible effects of exposure to electromagnetic fields. They also suggest keeping your cell phone away from your body as much as possible, avoiding using your cell phones in places like on a bus where you can passively expose others to your phone's electromagnetic field and switching sides regularly while communicating on your cell phone to spread out your exposure.