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Dr. Kim Mulvihill ReportingA new study is giving a whole new meaning to the phrase "can you hear me now?"
Researchers say too much time on a cell phone may lead to hearing loss.
With a mobile phone you can talk anywhere, anytime. Todd Cassidy travels for business. He says he uses his cell phone three to four hours a day.
But new research says all that talking may be taking a toll: making it harder to hear.
Researchers evaluated a hundred cell phone users. They found people who had been using cell phones for more than four years, and those who talked more than an hour a day, were more likely to have high-frequency hearing loss. That makes it harder to hear consonants like s, f, t and z.
Scientists speculate that electromagnetic waves may be to blame.
But hold the phone. One hearing expert familiar with the study says there is as yet no cause for alarm. Otolaryngologist Dr. Ronald Hoffman says, "There's no reason for anyone to worry that a cell phone is going to cause you to lose your hearing. There's no evidence of that."
He points out those cell phones have been safely used by millions of people for years. "With that type of usage, we would know if there was a hearing problem," Hoffman says.
It's not the first time that health concerns have been raised about cell phones. Early research suggested a link to brain tumors, but larger studies proved that wasn't the case; a view supported by the Wireless Association.
In this case, we'll just have to wait for larger studies to make the issue clear as a bell.
In the study, the hearing loss was slight and generally not noticeable. However, the cell phone users who felt a warm sensation, fullness in the ears, or ringing were more likely to have the high-frequency hearing loss.
If you have symptoms, it's time to cut back and get your hearing checked.