Do Cell Phones Cause Cancer?

Being a typical teenager, I am on my phone A LOT. Between texting, calling, social media, and checking my email, I always find some reason to go on my phone. I realized just how much I use it during a sorority meeting last night when our phones were collected to make sure that we would pay attention. I subconsciously reached into my empty pocket multiple times to check the time or my messages, only to come up empty handed. It felt weird being detached from it for more than 5 minutes. As soon as they were given back to us, I knew I was not alone in this feeling as everyone else immediately put their head down and began texting and “snapping” away. Society’s frequent cell phone use has many people worried it may hinder social skills and relationship development, but were you also aware that many people believe frequent cell phone use could have potentially more dangerous effects such as cancer?

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Image found here.

Where does this concern come from? The amount of cell phone users has increased rapidly. As of 2014, there are 327.5 million cell phone subscribers just within the United States alone. Globally, this number is estimated to be 5 billion subscribers. Cell phones use radiofrequency (RF) energy that could potentially be absorbed by the body tissue closest to where the cell phone frequently sits.  This type of energy is is seen as dangerous because it is a type of electromagnetic radiation , found in x- rays and radon. However, energy used to power devices such as cell phones, televisions and radios is non-ionizing radiation meaning it is low frequency and therefore, low energy while x- rays use ionizing radiation which is high energy. While significant exposure to ionizing radiation increases the risk of cancer, studies have found no increased risk of cancer from non- ionizing radiation (  Many different factors play a part in how much energy a person is exposed to when using a cell phone. These factors can include length of time on phone, whether it is close to the head or on speaker phone, distance to nearest cell tower, and type of phone being used. Cell phone producers are required to list the energy absorption rate of their models however, these numbers can many times be misleading. At extremely high levels radiofrequency waves can heat up body tissues however, researchers found that the levels found within cell phones are not high enough to cause any significant heating to body tissue. (American Cancer Society).

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Due to the frequency of people talking on the phone, meaning the phone is up to one’s head, many studies have been done to test whether this could possibly cause brain tumors. Since 2010, there have been 3 case-control studies which all came back positive in groups with the highest exposure. In 2/3 of those studies, the tumors were located on the same side the cell phone was frequently used however, this study could have been affected by “recall bias” meaning the patients exaggerated the amount of cell phone use. There have also been “Cohort” studies which follow people without tumors to test whether cell phones really do create a potential risk. All results in this study were found to be negative. The International Agency for Research on Cancer has ruled that the data shows no real risk of cancer/ tumors presented by frequent cell phone use. There is still a correlation between the two, but no evidence suggests that cell phone use is the cause meaning a confounding variable plays a role (Scientific American).

Should you throw away your cell phone? Probably not. Should you pay attention to the amount of time per day you use it? Maybe. Aside from there being a correlation to significant cellphone use and cancer, going on your cellphone all the time hinders social skills and relationship growth. Maybe once in a while, put your phone down and talk to someone in person. It could potentially save your life.


5 thoughts on “Do Cell Phones Cause Cancer?

  1. Mairead Donnard

    This blog post was so interesting! I know that during the day, I find myself checking my phone all the time to reply to snapchats and texts. Honestly, I spend too much time on my phone. With this being said, I think that one would have to be using their phone for an extended period of time for there to be any negative impact that could cause a tumor. Therefore, I do not think that there is an actual correlation between cell phone usage and cancer but I do think that it is healthy to remain on cell phones in general. They are not natural and extremely distracting, especially from learning. Here is an interesting article that talks about the distraction of technology: . It talks about the possibility of getting rid of cell phones in classrooms and while I think that would be nice, it is not realistic. In the end, if one does not want cell phones to be a distraction, they must show self-control.

  2. Luyi Yao

    If you ask me “what the only thing you will bring to a deserted island?”, my answer is cell phone. I do say that I am addicted to cell phone. So the topic just attract me! I know that cell phone has radiation, but I have no idea that how heavy the radiation is. Thanks for telling me that “The International Agency for Research on Cancer has ruled that the data shows no real risk of cancer/ tumors presented by frequent cell phone use.” One thing I am pretty sure that if people spend too much time in cell phone, they have less time to do exercise. So although cell phone radiation is not enough severe to cause cancer, we still need to control the time we use cell phone.

  3. Gulianna E Garry

    This is an extremely interesting topic. When I was younger and received my first ‘EnV2’ phone I was very reluctant to keep my phone by my bed when I was going to be. I had heard that by keeping your cellphone by your head for too long could increase your chances of brain cancer – so being a paranoid thirteen year old, obviously I would keep it away at night. This post also reminded me of when I was younger my mother was paranoid of microwaves. She was convinced that they caused cancer and that if we really needed to heat something up we could use an oven and not ‘risk’ ourselves to a microwave. It was very ironic that my mother was so weary about the microwave considering radio frequency was created in my town. Here is a link explaining about Bell Labs, you may show some interest to it!

  4. Jackson Grey Hope

    I really like this topic and I blogged about this similar issue in the first blog period. I find it concerning that cell phones can have such harmful side affects, especially when putting it close to your head. Especially with the rapid increase of technology these days. Children are starting to use cell phones at younger ages due to this prolific growth of technology. It is not like they are required to have a cell phone, however, school systems are switching to more technologically advanced systems and in most cases it is necessary for kids to have cell phones to check emails and other necessities for their education and extra-curricular activities. This is a little scary because children at younger ages do not have as developed of a brain, making it easier for these electromagnetic waves to enter their brain, raising the likelihood that they get a tumor. However, like you said, it is very unlikely that this will occur, but it is always good to take precautions. For example, getting a blue-tooth ear piece instead of putting your phone to your ear, or speaking on speaker phone and FaceTiming. Here’s an article explaining the dangers of cell phones, and also some advice of how to avoid these dangers.

  5. Abigail Roe

    This was a very compelling blog post. I have heard of cell phones potentially causing cancer. I never looked into it or reviewed studies done on the topic. I thought it was interesting and informative how you included the non-ionizing and ionizing radiation facts about cell phones vs. x-rays. It gives the reader more background information. To make your blog post even better, you could have included the source where you got the number of cell phone users from (327.5 million). That would have enhanced your credibility. Also, what is a Cohort study, and why did you put it in quotes? Toward the end of your blog entry, you claim that cell phone use inhibits “social skills and relationship growth”. I agree with that to some extent. Yes, someone who is on their phone all the time would probably be more likely to not want to socialize face to face. However, I am on my phone a lot of the time, and I still enjoy talking to people. I even like public speaking, which could be a confounding variable that is affected by non-socialization. Overall, well done blog post. You used diction from our class and presented your evidence well. When I read your title, I thought of one episode of Doctor Oz. On this episode, he talked about a girl that always kept her phone in her bra by her boob. Several years later, this girl was diagnosed with breast cancer right under the spot where she always kept her phone. Here is a video that shows a clip of this episode, the girl’s story, and the insight of Doctor Oz, as well as other doctors.

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