"In May 2015, a group of 190 independent scientists from 39 countries, who in total have written more than 2,000 papers on the topic, called on the United Nations, the World Health Organization, and national governments to develop stricter controls on cellphone radiation. They point to growing research suggesting that the low levels of radiation from cellphones could have potentially cancer-causing effects."
by Consumer Reports, bostonglobe.com, 20 November 2015
Does radiation from cellphones cause brain cancer — or doesn’t it?
Researchers investigating that question have gone back and forth over the years. A game of scientific ping pong has divided the medical community and cellphone users into two camps: those who think we should stop worrying so much about cellphone radiation, and others who think that there’s enough evidence to warrant some cautionary advice.
Most Americans fall squarely on the “don’t worry” side. In a recent Consumer Reports survey of 1,000 adults, only 5 percent said they were very concerned about the radiation from cellphones, and less than half took steps to limit their exposure to it.
Many respected scientists join them. “We found no evidence of an increased risk of brain tumors or any other form of cancer” from cellphone radiation, says John Boice Jr., president of the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements and a professor of medicine at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville. “The worry should instead be in talking or texting with your cellphone while driving.”
The US government doesn’t seem very troubled, either. The Food and Drug Administration says on its website that research generally doesn’t link cellphones to any health problem.
But not everyone is unconcerned. In May 2015, a group of 190 independent scientists from 39 countries, who in total have written more than 2,000 papers on the topic, called on the United Nations, the World Health Organization, and national governments to develop stricter controls on cellphone radiation. They point to growing research suggesting that the low levels of radiation from cellphones could have potentially cancer-causing effects.
What is cellphone radiation, anyway?
Your phone sends radio frequency, or RF, waves from its antenna to nearby cell towers and receives RF waves to its antenna from cell towers when you make a call or text or use data. The frequency of a cellphone’s RF waves falls between those emitted by FM radios and those from microwave ovens, all of which are considered “non-ionizing” forms of radiation. That means unlike radiation from a nuclear explosion, a CT scan, or a standard X-ray, the radiation from your phone does not carry enough energy to directly break or alter your DNA, which is one way that cancer can occur. (FM radios and microwaves don’t raise alarms, in part because they aren’t held close to your head when in use and because microwave ovens have shielding that offers protection.)
So should I stop using my cellphone?
No, Consumer Reports does not think that’s necessary. But it does have some concerns.
“The evidence so far doesn’t prove that cellphones cause cancer, and we definitely need more and better research,” says Michael Hansen, a senior scientist at Consumer Reports. “But we feel that the research does raise enough questions that taking some common-sense precautions when using your cellphone can make sense.”
Specifically, Consumer Reports recommends these steps:
• Try to keep the phone away from your head and body. That is particularly important when the cellular signal is weak — when your phone has only one bar, for example — because phones may increase their power then to compensate.
• Text or video call when possible.
• When speaking, use the speaker phone on your device or a hands-free headset.
• Don’t stow your phone in your pants or shirt pocket. Instead, carry it in a bag or use a belt clip.