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Are mobile phones destroying our spines?

Horns Are Growing on Young People's Skulls Due to Phone Use: Research

Currently, the evidence is not great either way. A recent systematic review looking at whether mobile phone use was related to neck pain found no rigorous research on the topic, with most studies being fairly simple surveys of university students. We love to fear mobile phones, because they are new and difficult to understand, but the reality is much more mundane. The science The basic claim is simple and comes from a study that looked at bony growths called external occipital protuberances, or EOPs, in a large group of people aged who had X-rays of their spine and skull. What does this have to do with mobile phones?

Not so scientific The researchers reported at the end of their paper that this was likely to do with mobile phone use, because men are more likely to use their phones for longer and because there is some evidence that mobile phone users may be at an increased risk of neck issues that could cause EOPs.

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Bottom line Are mobile phones destroying our spines? Topics Mobile phones Opinion. Semantics aside, here's why you shouldn't worry about growing bumps on the back of your head. In the February paper, Shahar and his coauthor, Mark Sayers, referred to the bony growth as "a degenerative musculoskeletal feature," a term typically associated with deterioration and loss of function. But these protuberances are fairly common among older people — and harmless, for the most part. Given that external occipital protuberances EOPs are present in most people as a very small bump, Shahar told Business Insider, they considered the bump to be enlarged only "if the 'bump' was over 10 millimeters.

The paper at the center of the recent hubbub analyzed X-ray images taken of 1, people from the side in order to see the curvature of the neck and the back of the skull.

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But it turns out that those 1, patients weren't a random, representative subset of the population; rather, the patients had all already been going to a chiropractor for help. What's more, they were all patients from Shahar's own chiropractic clinic in Queensland, Australia, according to Quartz. The authors seemed to suggest that these growths could arise because when we look down at our phones, we shift our heads' weight from over the spine to the neck muscles.

It's similar to the way pressure from a high-heeled shoe can cause a bone spur on the backs of one's feet. In a world in which parents are concerned about screen time and app developers use psychological tricks to keep us looking at our smartphones , news that humans are physically changing because of cellphones might not seem far from the realm of possibility. However, Shahar said he and his colleague "have not ever drawn direct links between the presence of EEOP[s] and mobile technology use. Instead, he said, "we have suggested that the cause appears to be a mechanical one," drawing links between the presence of these enlarged bony growths and sustained postures in which the neck is craned forward — a position that's "often associated with the use of mobile technologies.

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Shahar and Sayers also said in their paper that there could many other possible explanations for these bumps, including poor posture "while sitting, standing, or sleeping," "bike riding using drop hand-bars," or "sleeping supine with a high pillow. Shahar might have a stake in encouraging the general public up to worry about their posture: He owns a company called Dr.

Posture , which sells posture-correction products. Shahar failed to report this business venture in the "competing interests" section of his and Sayers' February paper. He told Quartz that he has "been largely inactive in that front over the years of my research, and this research does not discuss any particularly related intervention methods.

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However, the paper does suggest that "the mitigation of poor postural habit through prevention intervention may be prudent. Nature Research, which publishes Scientific Reports and is considered one of the most reputable publishers of scientific literature, ensures that its studies are peer reviewed by two reviewers, as the publisher told PBS NewsHour. Equating bony extensions with keratinous outgrowths could be a step too far, Hawks said on his website. General Comment I agree quite a bit with Kimby.

Why mobile phones are NOT a health hazard

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