Have you ever encountered someone who is afraid to talk on the phone because they think they will get brain cancer? It happens to me every time I try to call my grandmother. She has been warning me for years about talking on the phone for too long. I decided to finally find out for myself whether talking on your cellphone could impact your chance of developing cancer in the future. So, can cellphones increase your chances of developing cancer?
In order to understand the hypotheses that cell phones could cause cancer, you should first understand some of the main concerns people might have about cell phones. Some people fear that tissue around a cellphone will absorb the radiation that it emits (National Cancer Institute). It also scares some people that since cell phones are relatively new technology, we might not know their long term effects. I hate hearing contradictory things from everyone about cell phones and cancer so I wanted to find out the truth.
During my search for an answer, I found it necessary to take multiple studies into consideration, as many of them conflicted with each other. One such study came up repeatedly during my searches. The study was conducted by the National Toxicology Program (NTP) and saw more than $25 million in funding from the United States federal government and other sources (Knutson). It was a multi-year study conducted on rats which found a slight correlation between radio waves emitted by cell phones, and brain tumors. Ron Melnick, a major contributor to the study, remarked that it will be difficult for people to continue to say that cell phones have absolutely no link to cancer after this study (Knutson).
On the contrary, I have found multiple studies that reveal no correlation whatsoever between cellphone use and cancer. A study, conducted by Australian researchers found zero correlation between cancer and cell phone use since they were first introduced in the country in 1987 (Chapman). The author of the article, Professor Simon Chapman says that the radiation emitted by cell phones is only enough to heat the tissue around the head and has no long term effect on the body. The researchers claim that there has been no significant increase in brain cancer in the past 30 years, which should debunk the idea that cell phones could play a role in developing cancer. The study seems to be reputable as it was conducted through the University of Sydney and studied more than 34,000 Australians between 1982-2012 (Chapman).
The debate over whether cellphones could be linked to cancer is ongoing. What became an issue in answering this question is the vast number of contradictory studies that have been published. I believe some of the inconsistencies between the studies can be attributed to errors in the studies. Issues such as recall and participation bias, inaccurate reporting, and changes in technology that can affect the results could have occurred in any of the studies (National Cancer Institute).
So the overall consensus, can cellphones increase your chances of developing cancer? The answer is possibly. There seems to be no evidence that shows a significant causal link between cellphone use and cancer. This question is difficult to answer, considering that cell phones have only been around for about 40 years (Cheng). However with that being said, I recommend that you be aware of your cellphone use. If you are on the phone for long periods of time you might want to consider purchasing a bluetooth earpiece. This is a question that we will only be able to answer in the decades to come after longer exposure to cell phones and better technology to better understand the causes of cancer. For more information check out the National Cancer Institute’s website, they have some great information regarding the possible causes of cancer.
National Cancer Institute – http://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/radiation/cell-phones-fact-sheet
NTP Study on Rats –
Australian Study –
History of Cell Phones –