Infotainment

Mobile phones are changing the human skeleton

June 16 (Agencies) | Publish Date: 6/16/2019 11:56:18 AM IST

 People spend so much time looking down at smartphones and tablets they are growing bony 'spikes' on the backs of their heads, scientists say.

Researchers said growing numbers of people have growths called enlarged external occipital protuberances at the base of their skull.

Considered rare when they were first discussed in the 1800s, we may now be able to feel the bony lumps with our fingers or see them on bald people.

And younger people are developing them faster, with research showing the bumps are most common among 18 to 30-year-olds.

Scientists at the University of the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia, have done detailed research into the phenomenon.

They scanned more than a thousand skulls belonging to people ranging in age from 18 to 86, BBC Future reports. The lead researcher, Dr David Shahar, told the BBC: 'I have been a clinician for 20 years, and only in the last decade, increasingly I have been discovering that my patients have this growth on the skull.'

Dr Shahar suggests the reason for the bony spike becoming more common is the amount of time people – particularly the young – spend looking down.

On average the EOPs measured 2.6cm (1in), which the scientists said was 'significantly larger' than the average in 1996.

The reason for this, they suggest, is a 'hand held technological revolution'.

According to research revealed last year, the average person in the UK spent 24 hours per week – about three-and-a-half per day – on their smartphones in 2017.

On average, people check their phones every 12 minutes, disturbing stats from communications regulator Ofcom revealed. 

Some 78 per cent of Britons own a smartphone and one in five adults spend 40 hours or more online every week.

Dr Shahar said that, although the bony lumps are unlikely to cause any damaging effects themselves, they may never go away.

He added: 'Imagine if you have stalactites and stalagmites, if no one is bothering them, they will just keep growing'.

(Sam Blanchard 

senior health reporter 

for Mailonline)

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