Do Cell Phones Cause Cancer?


March 28, 2017

Maybe, but It’s Complicated

So far, scientific research has failed to firmly establish a link between cell phone use and cancer. But, that leaves us with the answer of probably not.  

Cell Phones Cancer

From the day that cell phones entered the consumer marketplace, conspiracy theorists and alarmists decried them as cancer causing devices. That was more than four decades ago, yet, while there is an established link between cell phones and cancer, the research is still not complete.

The National Institute for Health tells us there are legitimate concerns about mobile phones causing cancer and other health problems. There are three reasons for this concern and they are:

  1. Cell phones transmit radio frequency energy (RF), also known as radio waves. They are discharged from your cell phone’s antenna as non-ionizing radiation.
  2. The number of cell phone users has steadily climbed – in the span of 14 years, United States cell phone subscription tripled from 110 million users in 2000 to 327.5 million in 2014. This means exposure to radio waves have shared this increase.
  3. The number and length of mobile phone calls also have increased by users, making the amount of time that a user is exposed to radio waves also higher. Balancing this fact is that cell phone technology has advanced far enough to reduce the radio wave emissions from newer smartphones.

Do Cell Phones Give Users Tumors?

Users who use their cell phones on speaker or through a hands-free technology reduce their exposure to radio waves significantly. For users who use these technologies sparingly, the concern is whether cell phones contribute to tumors such as:

  • Non-cancerous tumors of the brain such as meningiomas
  • Non-cancerous tumors of the nerve connecting the brain to the ear (vestibular schwannomas, also known as acoustic neuromas)
  • Non-cancerous tumors of the salivary glands
  • Malignant (cancerous) brain tumors such as gliomas

So far, scientific research has failed to firmly establish a link between cell phone use and cancer. But, that leaves us with the answer of probably not, not a decisive answer one way or another.

Otis W. Brawley, M.D., F.A.C.P., chief medical officer for the American Cancer Society said this about cell phones, radio waves, and cancer. Starting in the 1950s scientists began speculating that radio waves were responsible for causing cancer.

But that was just speculation,” he said, “We really still don’t have definitive answers as to whether they do cause cancer.”

But Wait, What About That Study Last Year?

In a May 2016 article titled “Game-Changing” Study Links Cellphone Radiation to Cancer, published by the Huffington Post reported that there was an increased number of brain and heart tumors found in male rats exposed to the equivalent amount of radiation a human receives from mobile phones each day. But, this research may have some flaws. What were these flaws?

  • Rat aren’t humans, so their tissue may react differently than humans when exposed to RF.
  • The amount of radiation the rats received was a human dose, or, more than nine times more that the equivalent radiation for a cell phone using RF.
  • The study was not peer reviewed.

Most other studies do not show a link for RF and tumors. So, scientists say that more research is needed.

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