Cellular phones first came to be extensively accessible in the United States in the 1990s. Since then, along with the vast and still increasing number of cell phone users, both grown-ups and children, the quantity of time people waste on their phones has also grown clearly.
Cell phones send a kind of energy known as radiofrequency (RF) waves, so the safety of cell phone usage has increased some distress. The main focus has been directed on whether cell phones may enhance the chance of brain tumors or other dangerous diseases in the head and neck area, as these areas are nearest to where the phone is usually used while speaking or attending a call.
How Do Cell Phones Function?
Cell phones send and receive signals from the nearest cell towers (base stations) by using RF waves. RF waves are a kind of energy in the electromagnetic spectrum that comes between microwaves and FM radio waves. Like microwaves, FM radio waves, visible light, and heat, RF waves, all these are a type of non-ionizing radiation. They do not have sufficient energy to lead cancer by directly destroying their DNA (genes) inside cells. RF waves are separate from more powerful ionizing kinds of radiation such as x-rays, ultraviolet (UV) rays, and gamma rays. Ionizing radiation can destroy the chemical bonds in DNA, which might cause cancer.
At extremely high levels, RF waves can warm up body tissues. But the kind of energy transmitted by cell phones is much lower and is not adequate to increase temperatures in the body.
Radiofrequency Radiation and Its Effect on the Human Body?
Radiofrequency radiation is a kind of electromagnetic radiation. Electromagnetic radiation can be classified into two types: ionizing (e.g., x-rays, cosmic, and radon rays) and non-ionizing (e.g., power frequency or extremely low frequency and radiofrequency). Electromagnetic radiation can be determined according to its frequency and wavelength, which is the number of sequences of a wave that passes a reference spot per second. Electromagnetic frequencies are defined in units known as hertz (Hz).
Its frequency tells about the energy of electromagnetic radiation; ionizing radiation is high frequency and therefore has high energy, whereas non-ionizing radiation is low frequency, and therefore has low energy. The NCI fact sheet Electromagnetic Fields and Cancer lists sources of radiofrequency radiation. More research about ionizing radiation can be discovered on the Radiation page.
The frequency of radiofrequency electromagnetic radiation varies from 30 kilohertz (30 kHz, or 30,000 Hz) to 300 gigahertz (300 GHz, or 300 billion Hz). Electromagnetic fields in the radiofrequency spectrum are appropriated for telecommunications applications, such as televisions, radio transmissions, and cell phones. The human body receives energy from devices that release radiofrequency electromagnetic radiation. The absorbed energy dose is determined by using a measure called the specific absorption rate (SAR), which is denoted in watts per kilogram of body weight.
Revelation to ionizing radiation, such as from x-rays, is identified to enhance the risk of cancer. However, although many types of research have explored “the possible health effects of non-ionizing radiation from radar, microwave ovens, cell phones, and other sources, there is currently no consistent evidence that non-ionizing radiation increases cancer risk in humans.”
The only consistently identified biological impact of radiofrequency radiation in humans is heating. The strength of microwave ovens to heat food is one instance of this impact of radiofrequency radiation. Radiofrequency comes from cell phone usage does cause heating to the body area where a cell phone or other device is attached (e.g., the ear and head). However, it is not enough to measurably raise body temperature. There are no other verified effects on the human body from radiofrequency radiation.
The Revelation of Radio frequency Radiation Measured in Epidemiologic Studies:
Epidemiologic considerations use knowledge from various sources, including data from cell phone service providers and questionnaires, to measure radiofrequency radiation exposure. Direct analyses are not yet achievable outside of a laboratory environment. The evaluation takes into the record the following:
- How “regularly” research participants use cell phones, such as the number of calls per week or month
- The age and the year when research participants first time used a cell phone and the age and the year of last time use (enables estimation of the span of usage and time period since the start of use)
- The estimated number of cell phone calls per day, week, or month (repetition)
- The average time of a regular cell phone call
The entire hours of lifetime use, determined from the time of standard call times, the frequency of use, and the duration of use.
Do cell phones cause tumors?
Because cell phones usually are kept near the head when a person is on a call, the main interest has been whether the phones may lead or support to tumors in this area, such as:
- Malignant (cancerous) brain tumors, such as gliomas
- Non-cancerous tumors of any nerve that connects the brain to the ear (vestibular schwannomas, also understood as acoustic neuromas)
- Non-cancerous tumors of the brain, such as meningiomas
- Tumors of the salivary glands
A few researches have also examined possible connections to other types of cancer.
Whether a cell phone is powered off or set on airplane mode releases toxic RF Radiation even when not in use. The reason is that a cell phone is continually monitoring with cell towers for data so that it will be available to get a call should one come in. It also explores data such as the current time, temperature, etc. If you use a Bluetooth headset, your cell phone always tries to stay connected to your headphones, emitting the radiation.
What Epidemiologic Research Shows About the Connection Between Cell Phone Use and Cancer Risk?
Researchers use two primary sorts of researches to try to discover if something may cause cancer:
- Analyses examining in the lab (using lab animals or cell cultures)
- Analyses looking at groups of people
In most cases, neither type of research gives sufficient evidence on its own to determine if something leads to cancer in people, so researchers usually see at both lab-based and human studies.
The following is a review of some of the significant studies that have looked at this issue to date. However, this is not a complete analysis of all studies that have been done.
Lab studies of RF waves
As mentioned above, cell phones’ RF waves do not have enough energy to damage DNA or heat body tissues directly. Because of this, it is not obvious how cell phones might be able to provoke cancer. Some examinations have discovered potentially improved rates of specific types of tumors in lab animals exposed to RF radiation. Still, overall, the outcomes of these types of studies have not given definite answers so far.
Extensive studies declared in 2018 by the US National Toxicology Program (NTP) and by the Ramazzini Institute in Italy revealed “The groups of lab rats (as well as mice, in the case of the NTP study) to RF waves over their entire bodies for many hours a day, starting before birth and continuing for most or all of their natural lives.” Both studies discovered “an extended risk of irregular heart tumors called malignant schwannomas in male rats, but not in female rats.” (nor in male or female mice, in the NTP study). “The NTP study also reported possible increased risks of certain types of tumors in the brain and in the adrenal glands.”
While both of the studies were powerful, they also had restrictions that make it difficult to understand how they might implement to humans being exposed to RF waves from cell phones. A 2019 analysis of these two studies by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) determined that “the limitations of the studies didn’t allow conclusions to be drawn regarding the ability of RF energy to cause cancer.” Still, these studies’ outcomes do not rule out the chance that RF waves from cell phones might somehow affect human health.
Studies in People
Several studies have examined potential links between cell phone usage and brain cancer. Most of these researches have concentrated on brain tumors. Many of these were case-control studies in which patients with brain tumors were compared to people who did not go through brain tumors (controls) regarding their earlier cell phone usage.
These considerations have had mixed outcomes. Some researchers have discovered a possible connection between cell phone usage and brain tumors, while others have not. For instance, several studies published by the same research group in Sweden have published an enhanced chance of brain tumors in people using cell phones. However, there was no clear overall increase in Sweden’s brain tumors during the years that correspond to these reports.
Three extensive studies deserve special mention:
The INTERPHONE study:
The 13-country INTERPHONE study, the most extensive case-control study performed to date, observed cell phone usage among more than 5,000 people who formed brain tumors (gliomas or meningiomas) and the same group of people without tumors. Overall, the research found no connection between brain tumor risk and the frequency of calls, longer call time, or cell phone use for ten or more years. There was a suggestion of a potential increased risk of glioma, and a smaller suggestion of an enhanced risk of meningioma, in the 10% of people who used their cell phones the most. But this finding was difficult to understand because some people in the study described implausibly high cell phone usage. The researchers recorded that the study’s weaknesses limited them from concluding any firm outcomes and requiring more research.
Another part of the INTERPHONE study analyzed “more than 1,000 people with acoustic neuromas to more than 2,000 people without tumors, who served as matched controls.” As with gliomas and meningiomas, there was no overall connection between cell phone usage and acoustic neuromas. There was again a suggestion of possible enhanced risk in the 10% of people who mostly used their cell phones, but this conclusion was difficult to understand because some people described implausibly high cell phone use.
The Danish cohort study:
A comprehensive, long-term study has compared all of the people in Denmark who had cell phone support between 1982 and 1995 which is about 400,000 people, to those without a subscription to see a potential rise in brain tumors. The study followed people through 2007. “Cell phone use, even for more than 13 years, was not linked with an increased risk of brain tumors, salivary gland tumors, or cancer overall, nor was there a link with any brain tumor subtypes or with tumors in any location within the brain.”
This type of study is generally supposed to give more concrete proof than a case-control study.
But this study also has some shortcomings. First, it is only based on whether or not people had a cell phone subscription at the time. It did not include how often these people used their phones or if people who did not have a subscription used someone else’s phone. There are also restrictions as to how well this research might apply to people who are using cell phones today. For instance, while the cell phones used at the time of the study led to higher RF waves than modern cell phones do, people seemingly used their phones entirely a bit less than people use their phones now.
The Million Women Study:
A comprehensive perspective (forward-looking) study of almost 800,000 women in the UK reviewed the risk of developing brain tumors over seven years to self-reported cell phone use at the start of the research. This study determined no connection between cell phone use and brain tumors overall or various common brain tumor subtypes. Still, it did discover a possible connection between long-term cell phone usage and acoustic neuromas. However, the authors of this research did perceive the possibility that this connection might have been because of more intensive medical investigation in long-term cell phone users because of media coverage at the time.
All researches done so far have restrictions:
In summary, research of people proclaimed so far has not built a definite connection between cell phone use and tumor growth. However, these studies have had some significant limitations that make them dubious about ending the controversy about whether cell phone use influences cancer risk.
First, researchers have not yet been able to watch people for very long periods. After a recognized cancer-causing exposure, it often takes 10 years for tumors to grow. Because cell phones have been extensively used for only about 20 years in many countries, it is impossible to determine potential future health impacts.
Second, cell phone usage is continually changing. People are using their cell phones more than ever as they used to ten years ago, and the phones themselves are very diverse from what used to be in the past. This makes it difficult to understand if the outcomes of studies looking at cell phone use in years past still implement today.
Third, most of the researches showed so far has concentrated on adults rather than kids. (One case-control study examining children and teens did not discover a significant connection to brain tumors, but the small size of the research defined its power to find modest risks.) Cell phone usage is now extensive, even among younger children. It is likely that if there are health impacts, they might be more evident in children because their bodies might be more receptive to RF energy. Another matter is that children’s lifetime exposure to RF waves from cell phones will be higher than adults.
Finally, the analysis of cell phone use in most researches has been rough. Most have been case-control studies, which have depended on people’s recollections about their past cell phone usage. In these kinds of studies, it can be difficult to understand any possible connection between cancer and exposure.
With these restrictions in mind, it is necessary to study the possible chance of cell phone exposure, especially about the longer-term usage by children.
How common is brain cancer? Has this changed over time?
Below are some shocking statics about brain cancer and how rapidly it is increasing.
- “In the United States, 23,820 new diagnoses and 17,760 deaths from brain and other central nervous system cancers are estimated for 2019. Brain cancer incidence rates have declined slightly in recent years and mortality (death) rates have increased slightly.”
- “There is great variability in survival by brain tumor subtype, and by age at diagnosis. Overall, the 5-year relative survival for brain cancers diagnosed from 2008 through 2014 was 33.2%.” This is the percentage of people exposed to brain cancer who stayed alive 5 years after diagnosis as compared with the survival of a person of the same age and sex who does not have cancer.
- “The risk of developing brain cancer increases with age. From 2011 through 2015, there were fewer than 4.5 brain cancer cases for every 100,000 people in the United States under age 65, compared with approximately 19.1 cases for every 100,000 people in the United States who were ages 65 or older.”
- “An estimated 700,000 Americans are living with a primary brain tumor”
- “An estimated 84,170 people will receive a primary brain tumor diagnosis in 2021.”
- “An estimated 18,020 people died from a malignant brain tumor (brain cancer) in 2020, with an estimated 10,190 of these deaths occurring in males and 7,830 occurring in females”
- “13,657 children are estimated to be living with a primary brain tumor in the U.S.”
- “Approximately 4.3% of all brain tumors cases diagnosed each year occur in children ages 0-14″
- “An estimated 3,460 new cases of childhood brain tumors are expected to be diagnosed in 2021”
- “Brain tumors are the third most common cancer overall in individuals age 15-39 years, the second-most common cancer in males, and third-most common in females in this age group.”
- “An estimated 69,950 adults age 40+ will be diagnosed with a primary brain tumor in 2021 in the U.S.”
- “Brain tumors are the eight-most common cancer overall among persons age 40+ years, ninth-most among males, and fifth-most among females in this age group.”
- “Brain tumors are the third-leading cause of cancer-related death in individuals 40 years and older.”
- “The five-year relative overall survival rate for adults diagnosed with a primary brain tumor is 71.7%.”
- “More than any other cancer, brain tumors can have lasting and life-altering physical, cognitive, and psychological impacts on a patient’s life”
- “Malignant brain tumors cause an average of 20 Years of Potential Life Lost (YPLL) for individuals diagnosed as adults, which exceeds most common cancers. Among children ages 0-19 years, brain tumors represent the largest cause of YPLL due to cancer, with a mean YPLL of approximately 80 years”
- “Each year, approximately 70,000-170,000 cancer patients are diagnosed with brain metastases (metastatic brain tumors/secondary brain tumors), while ~100,000 will die every year as the result of brain metastases.”
What Do Expert Agencies Say?
The American Cancer Society (ACS) does not have any official research or statement on whether or not radiofrequency (RF) radiation from cell phones, cell phone towers, or other sources is a lead to cancer. ACS usually appreciate other expert agencies to discover if something direct to cancer that is, if it is a carcinogen, including:
- The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), which is part of the World Health Organization (WHO)
- The US National Toxicology Program (NTP), which is created from parts of many different government agencies, such as the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
Other major agencies also sometimes give their reviews on the exposure of certain devices usage such as cell phones to cause cancer.
- Based on a review of research published up until 2011, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified RF radiation as “possibly carcinogenic to humans,” based on restricted evidence of a possible increase in chances for brain tumors among cell phone users, and insufficient evidence for other types of cancer. (For more information on the IARC classification system, see Known and Probable Human Carcinogens.)
- More recently, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a technical report based on studies published between 2008 and 2018, as well as national trends in cancer rates. The report concluded: “Based on the studies that are described in detail in this report, there is insufficient evidence to support a causal association between radiofrequency radiation (RFR) exposure and [tumor formation].”
- So far, the National Toxicology Program (NTP) has not included RF radiation in its Report on Carcinogens, which lists “exposures that are known to be or reasonably anticipated to be human carcinogens.” (For more on this report, see Known and Probable Human Carcinogens.)
- According to the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC): “[C]urrently no scientific evidence establishes a causal link between wireless device use and cancer or other illnesses. Those evaluating the potential risks of using wireless devices agree that more and longer-term studies should explore whether there is a better basis for RF safety standards than is currently used.”
- According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): “At this time we do not have the science to link health problems to cell phone use. Scientific studies are underway to determine whether cell phone use may cause health effects.”
- The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) states that” the weight of the current scientific evidence has not conclusively linked cell phone use with any adverse health problems, but more research is needed.”
- the American Cancer SocietyExit Disclaimer (ACS) stated that “the IARC classification means that there could be some cancer risk associated with radiofrequency radiation, but the evidence is not strong enough to be considered causal and needs to be investigated further. Individuals who are concerned about radiofrequency radiation exposure can limit their exposure, including using an ear piece and limiting cell phone use, particularly among children.”
Why are the Findings from Different Researches of Cell Phone Usage Causes Cancer Risk Contradictory?
A few researches have revealed some demographic association data of cell phone usage led to brain tumor chances in humans, but most research have observed no association. Reasons for these differences include the following:
- Recall bias: This can happen when data about previous practices and exposures are received from research participants using surveys conducted after diagnosis of a disease in some of the members. It is possible that research participants who have brain tumors can remember their cell phone usage differently from people without brain tumors. Much epidemiologic research of cell phone usage and brain cancer risk requires valid data about the whole number of cell phone users over time. Besides, people who form a brain tumor may tend to recall cell phone usage mostly on the similar side of the head where their tumor was observed, despite whether they used their phone on that particular side of the head a lot or a little.
- Inaccurate reporting: which can occur when people say that something has happened more or less oftentimes than it actually did. People may not recollect how much they used cell phones in a given time frame.
- Morbidity and mortality: it is amongst research participants who have brain cancer. For example, gliomas are unusually hard to analyze because of their high death rate and the low survival of people who grow these tumors. Patients who survive first treatment are often damaged, which may influence their acknowledgments to inquiries. Furthermore, for people who have died, their relatives have often had the least familiarity with the cell phone usage patterns of their departed family member and may cannot precisely define their patterns of practice to an interviewer.
- Participation bias: can happen when people are found with brain tumors more prone than healthy people known as controls to enter a research study. Also, regulates who did not or seldom-used cell phones were less inclined to participate in the Interphone study than controls who used continuous cell phones. For example, “the Interphone research reported participation rates of 78% for meningioma patients (range among the individual studies 56–92%), 64% for glioma patients (range 36–92%), and 53% for control subjects (range 42–74%).”
- Changing technology and methods of use: Earlier researches estimated radiofrequency radiation exposure from analog cell phones. Today, cell phones have digital technology, which works at various frequencies, and the power level is lower than analog phones. “Digital cell phones have been in practice for more than two decades in the United States, and cellular technology continues to change.” Text messages and other applications, for instance, are common practices of cell phones that do not need to bring the phone near to the head. Furthermore, “the use of hands-free technology, such as wired and wireless headsets, is increasing Exit Disclaimer and may reduce exposure by distancing the phone from the body.”
What are the Other Potential Health Impacts from Cell Phone Use?
An extensive range of health impacts has been reported with cell phone use. Neurologic effects have critically impacted children brain since it is the organ which is primarily exposed. However, “studies of memory, learning, and cognitive function have generally produced inconsistent results.”
“The most consistent health risk associated with cell phone use is distracted driving and vehicle accidents.”
Radiofrequency Radiation of Cell Phones Impacted on Children Health:
There are theoretical studies that show us why the potential risk should be examined individually in children. Their nervous systems are still growing and, therefore, more exposed to the Radiofrequency radiation that may lead to cancer. Their brains are smaller in size than those of grown-ups and consequently have higher proportional exposure to the range of radiofrequency radiation that is released by cell phones. And, kids have the potential of acquiring more years of cell phone usage than adults do.
Therefore, the data from studies in children with cancer do not confirm this theory. The first published study came from a large case-control study called CEFALO, conducted in Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and Switzerland. The study included “children who were diagnosed with brain tumors between 2004 and 2008, when their ages ranged from 7 to 19 years. Researchers did not find an association between cell phone use and brain tumor risk either by time since initiation of use, amount of use, or by the location of the tumor.” Several considerations that will give more knowledge are underway. Researchers from the Centre for Research in Environmental Epidemiology in Spain are attending another international case-control study—”Mobi-KidsExit Disclaimer“—that includes 2000 growing people of age 10–24 years recently diagnosed brain tumors and 4000 healthy children. The main objective of the study is to discover more about risk determinants for childhood brain tumors.
Precautions That Can Reduce Exposure to Cell Phone Radiation:
You can take the following precautions that will help you to reduce the exposure.
1. Do not keep your cell phone directly close to your body:
Moving a cell phone even a tittle from the body can significantly decrease the exposure to radiation. If you double the distance to the source, the cell phone to your head, or brain, the signal strength would be four times weaker since two squared is four. If you triple the distance, the signal strength would be nine times weaker, and so on. At ten times the range between the cell phone and your head, the signal strength is 100 times less, and at 100 times the distance, it would be 10,000 times less.
2. Keep discussions short
The short you talk on your cell phone, the more limited radiation exposure you will face. So by keeping voice conversations brief, you are actually limiting your exposure.
3. Use a headset instead
Experts advise to use either a Bluetooth headset or a wired headset. While you might still be exposed to some radiation using this type of headset, it is, however, a lot more limited than taking the phone to your ear. If you use a Bluetooth headset, Ii is advised to take it out of your ear when you do not use it. There’s no necessity to proceed to expose yourself to low levels of electromagnetic radiation when you do not require to, since we still do not comprehend the long-term impacts of radiation exposure at low levels.
4. Utilize the speakerphone use of the cell phone
For this very reason, you can use a headset, using speakerphone is another good choice. It keeps the cell phone distant from your body, and you do not have to bother about using a headset. Of course, the drawback is that everyone nearby you can hear your conversation, so this may only be something you do when you are at house or somewhere isolated.
5. Turn your cell phone power off when you are not using it
For instance, power off your phone when you go to rest at night. Or, at the very least, switch off the cellular radio in your phone. Several smartphones, such as the iPhone, enable you to put your phone in “airplane mode.” This closes down the cellular radio portion of your phone. You can also switch off the Wi-Fi radio, too, to be safe.
6. Avoid using your cell phone where you receive a poor signal
Many users also do not understand that cell phones release different numbers of radiation depending on where they are to a wireless operator’s cell phone tower. Cell phones are continually interacting with cell phone towers, but the subscribers further away are from the cell tower, the weaker the signal. The device must increase its power to connect to the cell tower, which doubles the amount of radiation emitted. This means that if you get poor signals in your basement, you should go upstairs to your living room, where you have sufficient signals, to talk on your cell phone. Tawkon’s Friedlander noted that “a minute of talk time in a “red zone,” where the radiation is likely higher because of a poor cell phone signal, is equivalent to the amount of exposure you’d get talking on the phone for three hours in a “green zone,” where reception is good and the radiation emitted from a cell phone is much less.”
7. Text messages, IM, or use the Net more than talking on your phone
When you are texting or using your phone to reach the Internet, you will not keep it up to your head the same way you would if you were speaking on it. Texting and using other modes of communication that do not want you to put the phone to your head or directly next to your body are excellent ways to decrease exposure.
8. Keep your cell phone in your handbag or backpack instead of the pocket:
Again, it is all about forming a gap between you and your cell phone. So if you keep your phone apart from your body, then you are decreasing your exposure.
The device makers warn that cell phones shouldn’t be carried too close to your head:
User manuals from most maximum cell phones recommend keeping the phone a safe distance from your head rather than close to your ear. The iPhone 4 manual says: “When using iPhone near your body for voice calls or for wireless data transmission over a cellular network, keep iPhone at least 15 mm (5/8 inch) away from the body, and only use carrying cases, belt clips, or holders that do not have metal parts and that maintain at least 15 mm (5/8 inch) separation between iPhone and the body.”
“Today, an estimated 700,000 people in the United States live with a primary brain tumor, and almost 85,000 more will be diagnosed in 2021.” Brain cancer is deadly most of the time. It significantly impacts the quality of life, and ruin everything for a patient and their loved ones. It does not distinguish, keeping men, women, and children of all types and ethnicities. It is high time to cut the usage of all those devices that release high radiofrequency waves and prioritize our and our loved one’s health.