A study from the National Institutes of Health reports “clear evidence” that cell phone radiation may be connected to cancer of the adrenal glands and brain.
Tests were performed on mice and rats, using much higher levels of radiation than humans are exposed to. However, only the male rats demonstrated increase risk or brain tumors.
The study performed by Dr. John Bucher and colleagues at the National Toxicology Program (NTP) in North Carolina tested radio frequency radiation (RFR) used in 2G and 3G cell phones. The minimum amount of radiation given to the mice would be considered the maximum amount of radiation federal regulators allow on humans. The maximum amount of radiation given to the mice was 4X higher than the maximum allowed in humans.
Hence this was a study that looked at extreme conditions that the average human is not exposed to. However, they cite “clear evidence” that the radiation incited tumors in the rats.
For more on the study see here.
Now in August, a large study from the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal) in Spain, however, found no clear evidence of brain tumor risk with cell phone use.
Researchers in this study looked at 9000 people from seven different countries, having a range of occupations, and interviewed them on their occupational electromagnetic frequency (EMF) use. Sciencealert.com reports 4000 of these patients had brain tumors (glioma and meningioma) and were compared to the other 5000 who didn’t.
The good news is they did not find a correlation between those who sustained a brain tumor and those with high EMF exposure. However the bad news is they found only a small percentage of those studied actually would be deemed to have “High EMF” exposure hence leaving us still questioning if too much cell phone exposure is still risky.
Study author Javier Villa states, “Although we did not find a positive association, the fact that we observed indication of an increased risk in the group with most recent radiofrequency exposure deserves further investigation,” and suggests, “we shouldn’t worry for now, but we do need to focus future efforts on making sharper tools to analyse any hypothetical risk.”
What do cell phones emit?
Cell phones emit radio waves. These are a form of non-ionizing radiation that provides an energy source through radio frequency. Ionizing radiation is emitted by xrays, cosmic rays, and radon, and have been linked to cancer as it is a high frequency, high energy form of electromagnetic radiation. Non-ionizing radiation include radio waves, microwaves, visible light, UV light, infrared, and lasers. Although UV radiation may cause skin cancer, the other sources are deemed less dangerous than their ionizing radiation counterparts.
Can cell phone use cause cancer?
One of the more recent studies unveiled in May of 2016 reported cell phone radiation caused brain tumors in mice. Rats exposed to the radiofrequency radiation for 7-9 hours a day, seven days a week, were more prone to develop the malignant gliomas as well has tumors in the heart. This study was not intended to be translated to human risk, but of course it made headlines and scared us silly.
Prior to this, in 2011, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified cell phone use and other radiofrequency electromagnetic fields as “possibly carcinogenic to humans”.
However, multiple studies have been done, as descriptively outlined by the National Cancer Institute, and are assuring us that there is no imminent danger by our daily use of cell phones. The NCI also provides recommendations from the CDC, FDA, and FCC stating not enough evidence exists to establish a link between cell phones and cancer.
Can cell phone radiation injure our body’s cells?
Although arguments continue over cell phone radiation causing cancer, it has been proven that heat is given off. Many people complain their ear gets hot after lengthy cell phone use and studies have yet to determine if cell phone heat can cause oncogenic changes in cells. They’ve studied if the radiation affects metabolic activity, and a team led by Dr. Nora Volkow, head of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, found visible brain activity changes on the side the cell phone was being used. They recommended after this study keeping the cell phone away from the body and using a lower radiation emitting phone.
So now what?
We wait and see. My suggestion is to not overdo it with our phones. Use the speaker setting when practical so as to not consistently hug the phone to your skull. Take breaks in between lengthy calls. Text when appropriate to minimize exposure as well.
The following has been recommended for both children and adults:
- Keeping the phone away from the body
- Reducing cell phone use when the signal is weak
- Reducing the use of cell phones to stream audio or video, or to download or upload large files
- Keeping the phone away from the bed at night
- Removing headsets when not on a call
- Avoiding products that claim to block radio frequency energy. These products may actually increase your exposure.
Or do what I do when I talk to my mother, hold the phone 3 feet away from my head. I can still hear her…..just fine……
Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a nationally syndicated radio personality on GCN Network, KDWN, and iHeart Radio.
She is also a Board Certified Family Physician and Assistant Professor at Touro University Nevada