Can cell phones cause cancer?
Perhaps, but it’s complicated
Cell phone use and cancer have not yet been firmly linked in scientific research. Therefore, the answer is probably not.
More than four decades ago, conspiracy theorists and alarmists claimed that cell phones cause cancer. While there is a proven link between cell phones and cancer, the research is not complete.
According to the National Institute for Health, there are legitimate concerns about mobile phones causing cancer and other health problems. There are three reasons for this concern:
- 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.
- 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.
- Additionally, users have increased the length and frequency of their mobile phone calls, so the amount of time a user is exposed to radio waves has increased as well. The good news is that mobile phone technology has advanced enough to reduce the radio wave emissions from newer smart phones.
Do Cell Phones Give Users Tumors?
When users use their cell phones on speaker or hands-free, they reduce their exposure to radio waves significantly. For users who use these technologies sparingly, the concern is whether cell phones cause 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
Research to date has been unable to prove a link between cell phone use and cancer. However, that does not mean that there is a conclusive answer on the matter.
But Wait, What About That Study Last Year?
n 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.