There is no doubt that many people have given in to the hype around fitness trackers. And have found that fitness trackers are not just hype, they are accurate and efficient, too. They help us monitor our fitness progress in terms of how many steps we’ve taken, how many miles we’ve gone, how many calories we’ve burned and the likes. But over the years, many articles have sparked concern among health enthusiasts that have invested in the fitness tracker hype. These articles suggest that wearing fitness trackers could have potential side effects and even go so far as to say they can be cancer-causing. 

Concerns around sleeping with your phone near by or next to you can be detrimental to your health and contribute to many risks that revolve around cancer. This is because cellphones actually emit radiofrequency radiation, otherwise known as radio waves. Radiofrequency radiation is a form of electromagnetic radiation and can be categorized into two categories: ionizing, such as x-rays, cosmic rays and radon and non-ionizing, such as radiofrequency, extremely low frequency and even power frequency. Ionizing radiation is usually at a higher frequency and higher energy, while non-ionizing is at a lower frequency and lower energy. 

Radio waves are emitting non-ionizing radiation from the antennas of the phone. The parts of the body nearest to their antennas can absorb this energy, which in our case is almost always our heads as we use our phones before bed. Because of the increase of cellphone users globally, as well as how long and how often we are using our phones, our exposures and risk increases. Exposure to ionizing radiation has been known to increase risk of cancer, however there is not enough studies and evidence that non-ionizing radiation can do the same. 

Fitness trackers are known to emit the same low-frequency non-ionizing radiation as cellphones, at a likely much lower rate since fitness tracking devices work with apps that require cellphone WIFI and Bluetooth, you might be absorbing more from your phone than your fitness trackers. What we do know is that non-ionizing radiation from our trackers can give off similar rays of radiation, but less energetic than our cellphones. Smartphones, Bluetooth and WIFI all emit their fair share of radiofrequency energy. A lack of proof also can’t help back-up the concerns people have regarding these risks. 

The National Cancer Institute recommends to limit the time we spend on our phones, especially when we use them so very close to our heads, like holding a phone to our ears during calls. The overheating of these devices can also damage skin tissues. Some experts also suggest taking off these devices while sleeping, so as not to expose the head or brain to the low-frequency waves that devices give off, but more so for peace of mind than anything else. During the day, use fitness trackers you wear on the wrist so as not to expose the internal organs to any radiation. Try to plug in your fitness trackers to computers or phones (if possible), to lessen the transmission of information to your devices. Avoid wearing devices that are worn clipped on to other parts of the body, especially the midsection and reproductive organs to completely avoid exposure in any form. Turn off the Bluetooth on your device, and only sync the data to your cellphones once a day. Monitor your sleep quality with a tracker if you deal with underlying issues where sleep is necessary, and avoid sleeping positions that bring the tracker close to the head. Try to familiarize yourself to your device, try using it for a week to see if it may cause any sort of discomfort. 

Of course, these devices undergo many processes to prove that their devices do not pose a threat to the public’s health. In the United States, the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) is responsibly for the guidelines the products should meet. Other countries also impose these guidelines for products to meet. There is a certain amount of exposure to radiofrequency waves that products must live up to, otherwise they are banned or unapproved. All though there is not enough proof that fitness trackers are harmful in any way, this does not mean that they are not risky. It is important to remember that anything in moderation is okay, but anything in excess can be dangerous. Only use your tracker when completely necessary, and try to educate yourself about how much radiofrequency waves your device gives off, or specific absorption rate (SAR). Most devices contain FCC IDs and you can read up on it on the FCC website.

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