Does Having Cellphones Near Our Heads Cause Cancer?

In this day and age, cellphones are practically attached to us. It is almost impossible to be out in public and not see almost everyone with a smartphone in hand. Cellphones are with us 24/7 and after a long day, most of us lie down in bed with our cellphones in hand. We sit in complete darkness with a bright screen over our head (occasionally dropping the phone on our face) and sit there for a long time- sometimes even hours. We often tend to fall asleep with our phone beside us. In my room I have a night stand beside my bed, but for some reason I always go to sleep with my phone on my bed-often very close to my head.


My mom always tells me, “Don’t sleep with the phone by your head, it’ll cause cancer!” Now, every time I hear her say that, I wonder whether what she is saying is true, or it’s just because her intuition is so narrow that she, like most of us do, believe everything we hear. Newspapers, magazines and all other forms of media are always coming out with new phenomenon. One day, you’ll hear that drinking that extra cup of coffee will cause cancer, and the next day you’ll hear that drinking coffee is actually good for you!

There has and will always be skepticism when it comes to cellphones and our health. Just like any other technology, there always seems to be something good and bad about it, but is there really a correlation between having a cellphone close to your head and cancer?

After doing some research, I began to think that maybe my mom was right. I know that too much cellphone use is not good for you, but cellphones causing cancer, now that was something I truly never really considered. After scrolling through the scary google searches and reading into the articles more, I discovered some information. According to Camille Chatterjee of cellphones do give off electromagnetic radiation. But Chatterjee explained that the radiation that is emitted is small. So having a phone next to your head for the night  is not going to give you cancer immediately. That small emittance of radiation is not exactly great for you though. That being said, I decided to look into what this electromagnetic radiation was exactly (Chatterjee 2014).

Whenever you go to the doctor and need to get an x-ray, the doctor will give you a jacket to slip on. Those jackets are called lead vests. They protect you from the same electromagnetic radiation that cellphone’s project, except x-ray radiation is ionized (Hull 2008). According to Janet Starr Hull of ionized radiation has a much greater chance of harming humans, so that is why we wear the vests to protect us. On the other hand, radiation from cellphones is non-ionized just like the radiation from your microwave. That means that exposure to this type of radiation is not terrible. So that makes me wonder why some people associate cancer with cellphones near your head if the radiation emitted is minimal and not life-threatening? The University of Twente explains in an article titled Working With Non Ionizing Radiation that if one person has too much exposure over time, then the threat increases and the chance of a disease like cancer is more likely. What I think everyone should take away from this is to try to keep cellphones away from your head and off (look at the picture below to see the difference in radiation in one’s head overtime due to cellphone use). If you must have it on, Alex Stadtner, author of an article called Cell Phone Safety Tips For Limiting Radiation urges that you have it on “airplane mode,” especially when you sleep. Cellphones close to your head CAN cause cancer overtime. Even if it’s not cancer, according to’s article  it could be a non-cancerous tumor, but either way avoid the risk of any kind of tumor! For more tips about how to reduce emitted radiation from cellphones, even beyond lying in bed with it near your head can be found HERE.


If microwaves and electromagnetic radiation are both non-ionized forms of radiation, then why is it that we focus so much on the use and closeness of cellphones to our faces, when microwaves have been around longer?  This type of question is something I would answer if further research was conducted. I know that the average human does not use the microwave as much daily, but microwaves are something very commonly used, so the question now, do microwaves cause cancer?


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7 thoughts on “Does Having Cellphones Near Our Heads Cause Cancer?

  1. Monica Lynn Powell

    I have always wondered the same thing! I am one to take every precaution just in case so I’m glad to know that having my cellphone near my head every now and then isn’t going to kill me. Why is it that when you turn your phone on airplane mode, it isn’t harmful? So would having other electronics near you for too long be harmful? For example, I often will work on my computer at night and then be too lazy to put it on my desk so I’ll leave it at the end of my bed. Is it harmful to have my computer there while I sleep? Or does it not emit the same radiation as my phone? Something else that goes along with this that might be interesting to look into is the effects of being on our phone at night has on our eyesight. I’ve heard this can hurt our eyesight but I’m curious if it might do anything to our brain or affect our sleeping patterns. Technology is definitely tricky in that it so great in many ways but it also can be extremely harmful. We have to find that balance.

  2. Anna Pearl Belinda

    I honestly decided to read your blog because my mom says this to me all the time. It’s not that I never believed her, it’s just that I’m exactly like what our generation is described as- lazy. You did a very nice job in constructing this blog- every question that popped into my head after reading a sentence, you immediately answered. I’m glad that having my cell phone next to my head won’t immediately cause me to have cancer, but that being said it is quite literally attached to my hip. I shove it into my bra when I’m biking, slide it into my pants when I’m running or walking, and sleep with it next to my head. Not only would I reduce my risk of getting cancer if I pried myself away from my phone, but I would probably also live a more fulfilling life if I didn’t waste so much TIME on it. A good way that you tied this into class is how you talked about being skeptical! The example about the hamster and having lights on a night causing depression, or the article about being fat and getting sick today, are both good examples that I was relating it back to in my head. I like how you wanted to further the thought process and questions that you had by asking at the very end about microwaves and why they haven’t been more of a problem if they’ve been around longer. I question that I might ask myself is how far away does my phone need to be from me at night- does it need to be placed in a separate room?

  3. jnn5095

    I find your post extremely relatable within our generation. My mom has also made and statement similar to yours about cell phones. However, I struggle with chronic migraines. So I wonder if that has to do with my cell phone use as well. There will be an article below that references the use of cell phones and migraines. It gives helpful tips inference to how to avoid cell phone use and migraines combines.

  4. Brandon Ross Armitt

    This is always a topic that has had me confused on whether or not it was entirely sure. From my point of view, even with knowing about the possibilities of radiation effecting you, I still find myself falling asleep with it right by my side. You are absolutely correct in the fact with modern technology, kids are so much more likely too fall victim to this. Late nights on the phone or computer, and the next thing you know you wake up in the morning with the phone on your forehead. With the increase in technology, I would be interested to see if there is an increase in cancers for teens when they get older. The falling link here talks about different topics in regards to sleeping next to your phone, like when in particular does your phone emit radiation or are people under a certain age more susceptible to this.

  5. Michael A Lupo

    Very interesting post. I have always heard about people who swear that sleeping near your phone can cause severe damage overtime because of the radiation that your phone gives off. I never really put too much thought into this because I never really believed this to be true. I have always been someone who sleeps with my phone charging right next to me on my nightstand. However, I always try to remember to shut it off before I go to sleep. This is not because of the fear of radiation, it is simply because I don’t like to be interrupted when I am trying to sleep. This in turn works out for me because your post informed me that this is more beneficial to my health then leaving my phone on next to me. Your topic interested me enough to look up ways to reduce the radiation your phone emits and how to protect yourself from it. In an article found here explains fifteen simple ways you can protect yourself from your phone. I never realized the harmful effects that your phone can have on you until reading your post, so now I will try to be more conscious and protect myself from my phone.

  6. Isaac Chandler Orndorff

    Wow, interesting article! I always sleep with my phone by my head, usually right under my pillow. I always assumed the radiation given off by cell phones wasn’t truly enough to ever matter. However, I really should stop sleeping right over my cell phone, as this article shows that it can be dangerous. The question I have is, do all forms of electronics give off radiation? Is it dangerous to have headphones in all the time, or be near your computer? It would be interesting to see the lasting effects of being so connected to this world.

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