Smartphone, Tablet Could Cause Skin Cancer

Smartphone, Tablet Could Cause Skin Cancer Smartphone, Tablet Could Cause Skin Cancer

Mobile phones, tablets and laptops could trigger skin cancer by reflecting the sun’s harmful UV rays, scientists have warned.

The findings of a new study have prompted researchers to advise people to wear sun cream, sunglasses and even cover their faces and necks if using their phones outside.

 “These devices are generally used for communication or entertainment, so it can be easy to overlook their reflective properties unless you happen to catch the glare off a screen,” said Mary E. Logue of the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, who coauthored the research with Dr. Barrett J. Zlotoff.

They wondered whether, like those old-fashioned tanning reflectors, personal electronics could also pose skin health risks, Logue told Reuters Health.

In a small observational study conducted on a grassy field in Albuquerque, researchers set up a mannequin head wearing a UVA/B light meter and faced it toward a standard musician’s sheet stand. Then they placed various mobile devices on the stand.

In two trials, researchers recorded UV readings for an hour of exposure, from 11 am to noon, using a magazine, an iPhone5, various iPad models, two Macbook laptops and a Kindle e-reader.

In the first trial the devices were 16.5 inches from the UV sensor. For the second, they were secured 12.25 inches away. The devices and the UV sensor were angled to mimic an adult looking down at the handheld device.

The study team measured UVA/B dose exposure from light reflected by the devices in Joules per square centimeter over one hour and compared that to the UV readings with an empty sheet stand.

In the first trial, when the devices were further away from the mannequin, an open magazine increased UV dosage exposure by 46% compared to the sheet stand alone, an iPad2 increased exposure by about 85% and an 11-inch Macbook increased UV exposure by 75%.

Only the second trial, with devices held closer to the mannequin’s “face,” included the iPhone5, which increased UV exposure by 36%, as the researchers reported in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.

“The harmful effects of UVA and UVB rays have been well documented, and limiting exposure is the single most effective preventive measure an individual can take,” Logue said.

 “While the best course of action is to limit smart device usage to the indoors, this is obviously impractical for most people,” Logue said.