Mobile phones are part of our everyday lives. We use them to make phone calls, send emails, connect with friends and family, and to entertain ourselves. As harmless as mobile devices may seem, several researchers are on a mission to prove the link between cell phone usage and brain cancer. In fact, the debate over cell phones being carcinogenic to humans was raised by the World Health Organization on May 31, 2018.
There are three main reasons people are concerned about cell phones and their potential to cause certain types of cancer or other health concerns:
- Cellular devices emit radiofrequency energy, a form of non-ionizing radiation coming from the antenna (hidden within modern devices). The bodily tissues nearest to the antenna can absorb this energy.
- The number of cell phone users are on a rapid increase. As of December 2017, there were over 4.77 billion cell phone users worldwide, according to the Statistics Portal.
- In the years to come, the total number of cell phone calls per day, the length of each call, and the time people use cell phones will continue to increase. However, it is important to consider that improvements in cell phone technology have resulted in devices that have lower power outputs than earlier models.
What is Radiofrequency Energy and How Does It Affect the Body?
Radiofrequency (RF) energy is a form of electromagnetic radiation. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) defines radiofrequency energy as “another name for radio waves. It is one form of electromagnetic energy which comprises waves of electric and magnetic energy moving together (radiating) through space. The area where these waves are found is called an electromagnetic field.”
Electromagnetic radiation can be categorized into two types:
- Ionizing (x-rays, radon, and cosmic rays)
- Non-ionizing (radiofrequency and low frequency or power frequency)
According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), “High doses of RF radiation can raise body temperature, even to the point of being fatal. Focusing RF radiation on one area of the body can lead to burns and the breakdown of tissue. When RF waves are focused on the eye, it can even cause cataracts to form.” ACS adds that “there has been concern that some forms of non-ionizing radiation might have biological effects that could result in cancer in some circumstances.”It is crucial to gauge long-term effects, not only because we will continue to use cell phones for decades on end, but also because any damage may take several years to detect.
Is Cell Phone Radiation a Brain Cancer Risk Factor?
As of now, we are still unsure if there is a legitimate association between cell phone use and brain cancer. But until we have the facts, we should at least know the risk, mainly if the consequences might be something as devastating as a developing brain tumor. The World Health Organization’s statement is a reminder to us all of this potential risk.
How to Reduce Exposure to Cell Phone Radiation
To reduce your risk of exposure to cell phone radiation, opt for a wired earpiece or use your cell phone’s speaker function when making or taking calls. Better yet, send a text instead. For now, the important thing is to keep the handset away from the head as much as possible.