Can You Get Cancer From Cell Phone Use?

Can you get cancer from cell phone use? The short answer is maybe. The long answer is a little more complicated.

Checkout this video:

Introduction

Cell phones have been with us for over two decades now, and their usage has increased exponentially over that time. Given their ubiquity in our lives, it’s not surprising that there is a great deal of interest in whether or not they pose a health risk. In particular, many people are concerned about the possibility of developing cancer from cell phone use.

Cell phone use and cancer

There is no firm evidence to date that cell phone use causes cancer. However, some health agencies have suggested that there may be a link between cell phone radiation and brain tumors or other cancers.

Most of the concern surrounds the idea that long-term exposure to radiofrequency radiation (RFR) from cell phones could increase the risk of cancer. RFR is a type of non-ionizing radiation, which means it does not have enough energy to break apart DNA and cause damage that can lead to cancer.

Cell phones emit RFR when they are turned on and connected to a cellular network. The level of RFR emitted by a cell phone increases when the phone is used for talking or data transmission, and decreases when it is in standby mode.

There are two main types of brain tumors: malignant (cancerous) and benign (non-cancerous). Malignant brain tumors can be fatal, while benign brain tumors do not usually spread to other parts of the brain or body and are usually treatable.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified RFR as “possibly carcinogenic to humans” based on limited evidence from human studies and “limited evidence” from animal studies. However, the IARC has also noted that there is no clear link between RFR exposure and cancer risk.

The U.S. National Toxicology Program (NTP) has also been investigating the potential health effects of RFR exposure from cell phones. In 2016, the NTP released partial findings from its study, which showed “some evidence” of cancer in male rats exposed to high levels of RFR. The NTP is continuing its study and expects to release its full findings in 2018.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has also been investigating the potential health effects of cell phone use and has not found a clear link between cell phone use and cancer risk.

Overall, the available evidence does not support a clear link between cell phone use and cancer risk. However, some health agencies have suggested that there may be a small increased risk associated with long-term exposure to RFR from cell phones. More research is needed to better understand this possible risk before any definitive conclusions can be drawn.

The evidence

There is no clear evidence that cell phone use increases the risk of cancer. However, some studies have found a possible link between long-term exposure to radiofrequency radiation (RFR) from cell phones and brain tumors.

Most of these studies have been conducted in adults, so there is limited information on children and teens. In addition, many of these studies have looked at overall RFR exposure, rather than specific exposures from cell phone use.

The few studies that have looked at specific exposures from cell phone use have had mixed results. Some have found an increased risk of brain tumors with heavy cell phone use, while others have not found an increased risk.

One large-scale study is currently underway (the COSMOS study) to help better understand the potential long-term risks of RFR exposure from cell phone use. This study will follow a large group of people over time to see if there are any health effects associated with their RFR exposure. Results from this study are not expected for several years.

The verdict

The verdict on whether cell phone use causes cancer is still out. Some studies have found a link between cell phone use and certain types of cancer, while other studies have not.

One issue with studying the link between cell phone use and cancer is that it can be hard to determine how much cell phone use is dangerous. People who use their phones for long periods of time may be more likely to develop cancer, but it’s hard to know for sure if the cancer is caused by the phone or by something else.

Some experts say that there is not enough evidence to say for sure whether cell phone use causes cancer. However, they recommend taking precautions to reduce your risk, such as using hands-free devices and limiting your exposure to radiation from your cell phone.

Cancer and other health risks

There is no clear answer to whether cell phone use causes cancer. Some studies have found a link between cell phone use and cancer, while other studies have not. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a part of the World Health Organization (WHO), has classified radiofrequency electromagnetic fields as “ possibly carcinogenic to humans,” based on an increased risk for glioma, a type of brain cancer, associated with cell phone use.

Although more research is needed to determine whether there is a causal link between cell phone use and cancer, there are other health risks associated with cell phone use that are well-established. For example, using a cell phone while driving increases the risk of accidents and injuries. And, the radiofrequency electromagnetic fields emitted by cell phones are also linked to other health risks such as:
-DNA damage
-Sleep disruption
-Headaches
-Impaired fertility
-Neurological effects

How to reduce your risk

While the jury is still out on whether or not cell phone use can cause cancer, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk.

-Limit your time on the phone. If possible, use speakerphone or a hands-free headset so you don’t have to hold the phone to your ear for long periods of time.
-Avoid putting the phone up to your ear when the signal is weak. When the signal is weak, your phone emits more radiation.
-Don’t sleep with your phone next to your bed. If you must keep it nearby, turn it off or put it in airplane mode so it’s not constantly emitting radiation.
-Keep your phone away from your body. The farther away your phone is from you, the lower your exposure to radiation will be.

The bottom line

The bottom line is that there is no clear evidence that cell phone use increases the risk of cancer. However, some studies have found a possible link between long-term cell phone use and certain types of brain cancer.

FAQs

When it comes to cell phone use and cancer, there are a lot of myths and misconceptions floating around. We asked our resident cancer expert, Dr. Mary McMahon, to address some of the most common questions she hears about the link between cell phones and cancer.

Q: Can you get cancer from using a cell phone?
A: While the jury is still out on this one, the current evidence does not support a causal link between cell phone use and cancer.

Q: But I’ve read that cell phones emit harmful radiation…
A: Cell phones emit radiofrequency (RF) energy, which is a type of non-ionizing radiation. Ionizing radiation is the kind that can cause DNA damage, and is the type of radiation you need to be worried about when it comes to cancer. RF energy, on the other hand, does not have enough energy to cause DNA damage.

Q: So there’s no risk at all?
A: While the current evidence does not support a causal link between cell phone use and cancer, we can’t say for sure that there is no risk. The problem is that it can take years or even decades for cancer to develop, so it’s hard to study long-term effects of exposure to RF energy from cell phones. That said, given the widespread use of cell phones, even a small increased risk could have major public health implications. We need more research to better understand any potential risks from cell phone use.

Q: What about kids? Should they be using cell phones?
A: Because kids’ brains are still developing, they may be more susceptible to the effects of RF energy from cell phones. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends limiting kids’ exposure by having them use texting or hands-free options when possible, and keeping calls short.

Resources

The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified radiofrequency electromagnetic fields as “possibly carcinogenic to humans”, based on an increased risk of glioma, a type of brain cancer, associated with wireless phone use.

There are a few things you can do to minimize your risk:
-Use a hands-free device to limit exposure to the head and neck area.
-Keep calls short.
-Avoid using your phone in areas with poor reception, which requires the phone to emit more power.
-Avoid using your phone when it’s connected to the charger, as this also emits EMFs.
-Do not allow children to use cell phones except in emergencies.

References

-https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/radiation/cell-phones-fact-sheet
-https://www.cnet.com/health/can-cellphones-cause-cancer/
-https://www.wired.co.uk/article/does-mobile-phone-use-cause-cancer

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