Most of us have wondered at one time or another if our cell phone could be harming our health. After all, we’ve all heard the reports that cell phones may be linked to cancer. But with so many folks using them these days, including children, could it really be true? And what about the people who say there is no connection?
It’s true that the experts can’t entirely agree. And it’s also true that a bunch of deep pockets could end up losing lots of money if the connection is confirmed. But while I hate to be the bearer of bad news, the signs of there being a connection between cell phones and cancer point to yes.
Cell phone radiation could cause cancer
Here’s what we know.
In 2011 the long-running Interphone study found that while there wasn’t solid evidence that typical cell phone usage increased the risk of certain cancers, there was evidence that the risk of glioma rises at the highest levels of exposure.1,2 In other words, if you’re a power user who is practically never seen without your phone attached to your ear, your risk of cancer may be higher.
Later that same year a committee of the World Health Organization labeled radiofrequency magnetic fields, including those that cell phones emit, a possible carcinogen.3 On the other hand, the FDA,4 the CDC5 and FCC6 have all insisted there isn’t any scientific evidence that clearly shows cell phones cause cancer.
Study links cell phones to rare cancers
The latest research may change that. A large U.S. government animal study has revealed that the kind of microwaves that wireless devices such as our cell phones use—radiofrequency radiation (RFR)—is linked to cancer. Lab rats that were exposed to cellphone radiation were more likely to develop rare brain and heart cancers.7
Of course this isn’t the first time we’ve seen hints of a connection between cell phones and cancer. In fact, 65 percent of RFR studies have linked them to DNA damage1… the kind of damage that can eventually lead to cancer.8 For example, a study published in the journal Oncology Reports found that heavy users of cell and cordless phones may have up to twice the risk for developing a rare brain cancer.9
But this latest study has caused quite a ripple in the scientific community, and the FDA has already appointed a special panel of experts to closely review the new study.
One thing everyone agrees on is that with so many cell phones and other wireless devices… from WiFi routers to laptops… exposing us to RFR every day we need to figure this out, and fast. Lives may literally depend on it.
8 easy changes to reduce your radiation exposure
In the meantime, there’s no reason to wait around for all the experts to agree exactly what our risks are, and what we should do about them. There are some simple changes you can make immediately to reduce your own RFR exposure.
- Stop putting your cellphone up to your ear. Use headphones, an earpiece or the speaker-phone function instead.
- Opt for texting over calling whenever possible.
- Stop putting turned on cell phones or other wireless devices in pants or jacket pockets. Keep them further away from your body in a purse, bag, or briefcase.
- Switch to “airplane mode” on your cellphone when you don’t need it to be on. And switch off the WiFi on laptops or tablets when it’s not needed.
- Don’t place laptops in your lap, despite the name. Use them on a desk or table instead.
- When the WiFi signal is poor your wireless device emits more radiation, so wait until you have a better signal to use it.
- Switch off your wireless devices at bedtime, and never sleep with a cellphone or tablet in the bed.
- Use a wired land line to make calls whenever possible, and consider forwarding your cell calls to your land line when you are at home or in the office.
Making these simple, small changes could significantly reduce your RFR exposure, which could, in the long run, reduce your cancer risk.
1. “Evidence For Genotoxic Effects (RFR AND ELF Genotoxicity),” Prepared for the BioInitiative Working Group July 2007
2. “Research Programs – Interphone Study: Summary – Interphone Study Group – brain tumours.” rf.com.ca, Accessed 10_2016
3. “Agents Classified by the IARC Monographs, Volumes 1–116,” Page 18, Accessed 10_2016
4, “U.S. Food& Drug Administration: Radiation-Emitting Products – Cell Phones,” fda.gov, Accessed 10_2016
5. “CDC – Frequently Asked Questions about Cell Phones and Your Health,” CDC.gov, Accessed 10_2016
6. “Federal Communications Commission: Wireless Devices and Health Concerns,” fcc.gov, Accessed 10_2016
7, “Report of Partial findings from the National Toxicology Program Carcinogenesis Studies of Cell Phone Radiofrequency Radiation in Hsd: Sprague Dawley® SD rats (Whole Body Exposure),” Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Posted May 26, 2016, This article is a preprint and has not been peer-reviewed
8.”Electromagnetic fields and DNA damage,” Pathophysiology 16(2-3):79-88 · April 2009
9. Pooled analysis of Swedish case-control studies during 1997-2003 and 2007-2009 on meningioma risk associated with the use of mobile and cordless phones,” Oncol Rep. 2015 Jun;33(6):3093-8 27
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