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New cancer warning about laptop computers

Can Laptops really lead to cancer
Can Laptops really lead to cancer
Courtesy of Makezine

In an age filled with technological advances only dreamed about two decades ago, the human species has joined together as a global community connected by the internet. With the advent of inexpensive laptops, computers can and are taken everywhere. Why sit at an uncomfortable desk when you can sprawl out in bed with your laptop balanced on your legs? Medical professionals can answer this question as a new laptop related medical condition has come to the forefront of the technological age: Toasted Leg Syndrome!

There’s no medical mystery to this condition, at least to those who know the symptoms. Recently, a 12-year-old boy had developed a blotchy, discolored area on his left thigh after playing a new video game on his laptop for a few months. While the young man was able to deduce that the disfigurement was in the same location as the hottest part of his laptop, he didn’t put two and two together. In another case, a Virginia woman went to her doctor with a similar problem on her leg. Dr. Kimberley Salkey, the treating physician, was perplexed at the skin discoloration. She only realized what was happening after she discovered that the young lady in question spent six hours a day using an overheated laptop, propped up on her legs.

So how bad could a little overheating from a laptop be? Dermatologists examining this condition under a microscope say that the distressed area resembles skin severely damaged by the sun. While many manufacturers now issue warnings in their laptop’s user manuals regarding the placement of laptops on exposed skin, most people simply ignore them. Is “toasted skin syndrome” really a 21st Century ailment? The answer is no.

This condition started a long time ago. The first cases of this problem started when the heating pad was invented. Prolonged exposure to heating pads can cause this type of burn. People who work around certain heat sources have also been known to have developed this problem. From bakers to glass blowers, anyone working around concentrated sources of heat is susceptible to the damage. If it was only a case of a mild burn, the medical community wouldn’t be so concerned. There’s a bigger problem with overexposure to continual, concentrated heat and that problem is cancer.

The problem with long term exposure to a laptop’s heat source is its similarity to overexposure to the sun. Both can lead to squamous cell skin cancer, one of the most aggressive forms of skin cancer. While it would require a great deal of long term exposure to contract this type of cancer from a laptop’s heat source, there are some individuals who spend the better part of the day with a laptop on their knees. These groups of people are primarily children and teenagers who often use laptops for 8 to 10 hours at a time. While it may seem farfetched that someone could spend enough time on a laptop to develop skin cancer, think about the mathematics.

A typical teenager, or adult writer fascinated by his laptop, spends 5 hours a day online. Multiple this number by 365 days and the picture becomes clearer. The answer is 1825 hours per year. That is the equivalent of roughly 76 days of 24 hour a day, nonstop exposure. In a world in which we spend less and less time outdoors, our skin is becoming more sensitive to heat in general. Add the weakening ozone layer, allowing the sun to further damage our skin when we are outside, and the picture gets even clearer.

While the technological revolution sweeps the world up in its advancements, we face new health issues that haven’t even been studied. While civilization has been around for over 2,000 years, technology is still in its relative infancy. This means the long term repercussions will not be known for many years. The next time you snicker at the notion of cell phones causing cancer, think again. It will take another ten years of studies before we have an absolute answer to that debate. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome anyone?


  • Anonymous 4 years ago

    This entire article is nonsense hogwash without a single credible shred of evidence. Just because you throw out terms that sound good put together doesnt mean they are in any way correct.

  • Anonymous 3 years ago

    Good article. I am wondering now that I am undergoing chemotherapy for Hodgkins Lymphoma - discovered in my groin - if my laptop has played a part in this condition. The swollen lymph node is exactly where I used to feel burning from my laptop. I think it is too coincidental to be dismissed lightly.

  • Anonymous 3 years ago

    I used to lie in bed with my laptop resting on my stomach. After about 2 and a half years of doing this I developed a new mole on my left side, where the warmest part of the computer would be. I didn't think anything of it until it was taken off a year later and the lab report came back as severely atypical with melanoma features. Scared the hell out of me! I don't know if the computer caused it, but to be safe I now keep the laptop on a table at all times.

  • LC 3 years ago

    Not very hardhitting news. Want to find out more in depth information on the correlation between laptops and cancer! Join us at 'The Laptop Cancer Connection' on FB, tell us your story!

  • dcik 2 years ago

    dcik cancer aaaagh

  • Terri 2 years ago

    I think as time goes on like any other health problem, people start to complain of same problem will be determine it is a actual worry. I too have a brand new mole-like bump on my right leg near the upper
    thigh. I had pc on lap for 6 months before bump occurred. Haven't been in the sun for years. Pc gets
    real hot on thighs and I moved pc around between thighs and on lap. I was told it's a precancerous bump and had it frozen but need it cut off if it doesn't come off by itself. Be cautious people. Put pc on table, or bed table or lap rest that will degenerate heat from pc.

  • Donna 1 year ago

    I have been putting my computer on my stomach while laying in bed, I have recently realized the lymph nodes in my groin get swollen and tender within minutes of having it on my stomach. I stopped putting the computer on my stomach for a week, no problems. Then to see if it was the computer giving me swollen lymph nodes I placed the computer on my stomach again. Within minutes bingo tender lymph nodes! I bought a small table for over my lap while I am in bed. I do believe a computer should not be placed on your body. Very dangerous! Be aware. Please let your children know the danger in this.

  • Kavita 1 year ago

    i m feeling etching and burning on my left lap , is it initial level of scene cancer?

  • 5WarVeteran 1 year ago

    For all the Nay Sayers, OK aSSumers here is a bit of reality. I am a disabled veteran, I sit with a laptop in my lap up to 8 HOURS A DAY. I have a growth on the inside of my left thigh that corresponds to both the thermal vent on my NOT OVERHEATED lap top and the WIFI transmitter card. Not over heated because I use a metal mesh tray to hold the laptop off of my legs so it does not over heat. I have had the laptop for 3 years yet this year the growth started around April (2013) and has slowly increased in size. I have allowed this to continue as an experiment to prove the dangers of WIFI radiation. My leg is not "toasted" though it is slightlydiscolored and has what appears to be fatty tumors increasing in size under the discoloration. The area is neither painful nor uncomfortable.

  • Anonymous 1 year ago

    What about the wireless signal, wasn't all that long ago when cell phones were creating antenna shaped brain tumors, who knows what the wireless signal is doing to the internal organs in the lap!

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