Brain Tumors, Reaching Nirvana & Cellphones

6 06 2008

Brain tumors have been on my mind lately. First came the diagnosis of Ted Kennedy and the overwhelming media attention focused on his surgery, recovery, and future in the Senate. Then, a Sunday New York Times article featured the inspiring story of Jill Bolte Taylor, a Harvard neuroscientist who lost the use of her brain’s left lobe from a burst blood vessel and experienced something not unlike Nirvana, a feeling of connectedness with the world and a total loss of ego and analysis.

That story got me to watch an inspiring video from the TED conference featuring Dr. Taylor. The implications for how our dual-processing right and left brains impact our consciousness was truly enlightening and I encourage you to watch (you will be moved).

Flipping though the channels around this time I caught an episode of Larry King Live in which three famous neurosurgeons told Larry that they did not hold cellphones next to their ears. The form of brain cancer linked to Kennedy is a glioma, and that’s commonly associated with cellphone use. The scientific studies that could link cellphone use to brain cancer are incomplete because the data hasn’t yet been gathered for heavy use. Young adults are seen to be even more susceptible.

Bluetooth headset manufacturers don’t have the solution either, as the Huffington Post picked up the King story and wrote: “Use some form of headphone or earjack but not a Bluetooth, which places the transistor right in your ear.”

As a consumer of media in the modern age, I’m susceptible to receiving news on all fronts and having the news mutate and multiply like a cancer and spread — from a glimpse of the front page of a New York Post in a hotel lobby featuring Kennedy, to the Sunday Times, Internet video, CNN, and the Huffington Post. This phenomena of news repeating through all the possible channels is hardly new. But when you start to see similar stories repeating again and again, it gives them more weight.

While the science is still out, the cellphone companies and Bluetooth headset manufacturers will continue to get a free pass. Eventually they may wind up just like the automakers who sold SUVs and are now suffering because of high gas prices and the impact of non-hybrids on the environment. What looks safe now can sometimes wind up having dire consequences.

The result is that I’ve ditched my Jabra and am using my cell on speakerphone now. But, if using my cell to my ear could someday help me reach Nirvana (on the left lobe side, of course) I may have to reconsider.

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