Electronic Handheld Devices May Indirectly Increase Skin Cancer Risk
Mary E. Logue of the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, and colleagues reported that electronic handheld devices such as laptops, smartphones, and tablets may indirectly increase skin cancer risk through the reflection of ultraviolet light from the sun by the devices. The research team explained that the reflective properties of the devices are often overlooked. They were also considering whether tanning reflectors and other similar electronics could increase the risk of skin cancer.
They conducted their study by setting up a mannequin head attached with an ultraviolet light meter and positioned it directly in front of a musician’s sheet stand consisting different mobile devices. They recorded the ultraviolet light reflected by the devices for an hour. The devices used include a Kindle e-reader, 2 Macbook laptops, different iPad models, an iPhone5, and a magazine. Two trials were carried out. The first trial includes placing the devices 16.5 inches away from the ultraviolet light sensor. The second trial includes placing the devices 12.25 inches away from the ultraviolet light sensor. In both trials, the ultraviolet light and devices were put in an angle similar to how an adult look at his or her device.
Results of their study revealed that an 11-inch Macbook exposes individuals to 75% more ultraviolet light while the iPad2 exposes individuals to 85% more ultraviolet light. In comparison to the empty sheet stand used, an open magazine exposes individuals to 46% more ultraviolet light. The authors suggested that the hazardous effects of ultraviolet light are well documented. They added that the most effective preventive method anyone can take is to limit the ultraviolet light exposure. However, the authors admitted that despite their result showing that handheld devices reflect a fair amount of ultraviolet light, further studies need to be done to assess whether the risk of skin cancer does increase in the event of increased ultraviolet light exposure. Dr. Robert Dellavalle, Chief of the Dermatology Service at the Denver VA Medical Center, uninvolved in this study, commented that this research is flawed because most people would use their hand to shield their handheld device from sunlight for better screen visibility.