Dr. Marc answers readers’ question every other week. To send a query, click here.
Dear Dr. Marc,
I’m wondering about those omnipresent gizmo’s, cellular phones. Don’t they transmit in the microwave region of the spectrum? Is putting one next to your head like putting your head in an oven? I thought microwaves, like the sun’s ultraviolet radiation, have a frequency high enough to be capable of smashing into our DNA and knocking molecules out of place, leading to mutations with the potential of being carcinogenic.
On the one hand, you see people pressing phones against their heads everywhere you go, so how could it be deadly? On the other hand, you also see people sucking on cancer sticks, cigarettes. They say, if you’re worried about brain cancer, just plug a headset into your phone and you’ll be fine. But then, you’re just holding the phone in your hand, or putting it in your pocket. The phones are so tempting to use, but will we pay a price?
You’re not the only one wondering about cellphones. The incidence of brain tumors has increased but no study has yet been able to correlate this with radiation from cellphones. Despite this, I am of the belief that headsets are advantageous, that pressing a cellphone to one’s head, as you say, cannot be good for it (for your head I mean). On the other hand, I am not concerned about the headsets – it is hard for me to believe that holding a cellphone in your hand or putting it in your pocket is dangerous – I would expect that process to be on the safe side.
Dear Dr. Marc,
One way of determining how best to manage the costs of delivering health care would be to benchmark the cost structure of a typical provider, perhaps CIGNA and its associated healthcare providers, hospitals, clinics etc. in a city with a counterpart overseas, perhaps Canada or Sweden which presumably have their costs better under control.
Have any such benchmarking studies been done? And, if so, what have they shown about how best to manage health care costs in the United States?
Interesting idea, to track the HMOs in the same way that they track their patients. But I don’t think the private payer scheme could be compared directly to one where national health insurance is applied, because of the different cultural and socio-economic differences among these countries. I also don’t believe that the HMOs would allow themselves to be subjected to the kind of scrutiny that they themselves engage in routinely. Further, even if we did benchmark their cost structure, how would we get them to change it under our wasteful system of private interest group economics? The numbers would no doubt reveal bureaucratic waste in health care spending and poor organization, a finding that would no more bring in an automatic shift towards National Health Insurance here than it would bring shame to the fat cat lobbyists.