Cellphones Cause Cancer?

One of my favorite organizations, Environmental Working Group, recently released the results of their 10 month study into radiation emitted from cellphones. They report studies have found higher incidences of brain and salivary gland tumors in people who have used cell phones for ten or more years. This caught my attention since I have just hit a decade of cell phone usage myself, and my husband has used one for over 15 years.

I could not find a link to their source of information about the link between cell phones and cancer, so I conducted my own search. I found an article from Surgical Neurology, an International Journal of Neurosurgery and Neuroscience. The article was published in their September 2009 issue, and was a meta-analysis of 11 long term studies, which means it was a statical look at data gathered from multiple studies. All of the studies used had been published in peer-reviewed journals, included participants with over 10 years of cell phone usage, and were looking at cancer rates on the side of the head the user frequently held their phone to.

girl on cellphone

The results of the study indicated being a long-term, frequent cell phone user doubles the chance of tumors of the brain on the side of their head most used for cell phones. The authors state that the “data achieve statistical significance for glioma and acoustic neuroma but not for meningioma.” All three of these conditions are brain tumors, but not all of them are cancerous.

With this in mind, I checked back in at the Environmental Working Group’s website. EWG has come up with a list of over 1000 cell phones and their radiation emissions. Of course I checked my phone and was dismayed to find it is fairly high on the list. My husband’s phone was much lower. I then clicked on the link Guide to Reduce Cell Phone Radiation Exposure. Here I read about tips to reduce my exposure, and I found out that listening is better than talking or texting and texting is better than talking when it comes to the radiation your phone emits. I also learned that using a headset or speakerphone can help, but it is important to keep the phone away from your body so the soft tissues don’t absorb the radiation.

The report by EWG is a great resource if you are phone shopping. If I were in the market for a new phone I would consult this list to help narrow my search. While I’m not going to stop using my cell, the report will make me rethink how often I use my phone and how I talk on it when I do. For centuries smoking was not considered hazardous to a person’s health, yet it turned out to be one of the most harmful personal habits. The first report linking smoking to lung cancer was published in 1929, yet it took until 1964 for the surgeon general make a statement about the relationship between the two. Perhaps with new information coming to light we can take steps now to prevent cell phones from causing illness before it becomes a national health problem.

young child on cell phone

photo from thisiswireless.com