Parenting Resources

Medical Risks of Cell Phones

Do cell phones cause cancer?  

This question is being asked because cell phones work by sending and receiving signals using radiofrequency waves, which is a non-ionizing form of radiation.  The ionizing form of radiation (like xrays) does have a relationship with cancer, but it is uncertain as to whether radiofrequency waves can cause cancer.  Radiofrequency waves can increase the temperature of nearby cells, and one study showed that after using a cell phone for 50 minutes, the cells on that side of the brain showed an increase in metabolism by using more glucose.  Many studies have attempted to evaluate the association between cell phone use and the development of cancer (especially those cancers of the head and neck), but the results are inconclusive.

One study, the Interphone Study, conducted by researchers in 13 countries studied 400,000 people over a 13 year period of time. This study found no relationship between cell phone use and tumors of the head and neck, with the possible exception of those individuals who reported the highest level of use.

Several studies in Sweden and the United Kingdom seemed to find a slight increase in the development of acoustic neuromas but the overall incidence of acoustic neuromas did not increase in the countries despite increasing cell phone usage.  So the data is difficult to interpret.

A study in the US surveying cancers between 1987 and 2007 found no increase in brain cancer despite the rapid increase in cell phone use.

There are ongoing studies that are continuing to evaluate the data, and additional information can be found at the two links below:

What are some easy ways to decrease exposure to radiofrequency waves?

  • Use the speaker phone when making telephone calls.
  • Use your hands-free device whenever possible.
  • Turn your cell phone to airplane mode so your phone is not constantly searching for a signal.
  • Turn your cell phone off whenever possible and enjoy your family, your surroundings, and your community!