Here's some news that will make you want to put your phone down: there's a chance that phones are causing people to grow horns on their skulls. At least that's the conclusion of a study conducted by an Australian research team.
The data was published in academic papers coauthored by David Shahar and Mark Sayers, two researchers at the University of Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia, who argue that "smartphones and other handheld devices are contorting the human form." According to their findings, which were detailed in The Washington Post, some young people are developing hornlike bone spurs at the back of their heads due to how often they tilt them forward to look at their phones. The motion causes weight to shift from the spine to the muscles at the back of the head, they've said, which causes bone growth in the tendons and ligaments. As a result, the researchers noted that a hornlike feature — which actually sounds like more of a small growth — could form at the back of the skull, right above the neck.
Shahar and Sayers began their research in 2016, when they noticed that a lot of their younger patients had small enthesophytes, or bone spurs, at the base of their skulls. Their study looked at 1,200 X-rays of people in Queensland between the ages of 18 and 86 and found that the bone growth was present in one-third of the group. The size of the growths decreased with age, though, meaning the effects were larger in younger people and smaller in older participants. Shahar and Sayers are suggesting that smartphone usage likely plays a role in the phenomenon, given how uncommon this kind of bone growth used to be.
"These formations take a long time to develop, so that means that those individuals who suffer from them probably have been stressing that area since early childhood," Shahar told The Washington Post.
So, should you panic? Well, this appears to be more of a theory than anything, and even if it's true, you won't find yourself walking around in the next five years with an actual horn growing out of your head. Also, uh, sorry to anyone who's currently reading this on their phone.