Can using your cellphone put you at risk of brain cancer?

A Swedish study analyzed the results of 1498 people with malignant brain tumours to determine whether their phone use had any effect on their cancer. They found that the longer a person used a cell or cordless phone, the more likely they were to get gliomas, a type of tumour found in the brain or spinal cord that is malignant in 80% of cases. As well, the risk was three times higher after 25 years of use. Cellphones emit radiofrequency energy, a type of electromagnetic radiation that can be absorbed by brain tissue. A study from France found similar results connecting cellphone use and glioma (The Atlantic, 2014).

The World Health Organization has changed their story

The International Agency for Research on Cancer has classified cellphones as “possibly carcinogenic,” according to the World Health Organization (WHO), which has also added mobile phone use to the same “carcinogenic hazard” category as lead, engine exhaust, and chloroform (WHO, 2014). Prior to this significant addition, WHO had assured consumers that there were no adverse health effects associated with cellphones. Numerous other studies are in the works to more fully assess the potential long-term effects of cellphone use. The thing about science is that it is ever-evolving, and very real risks may become more conclusive as time passes.

Offsetting the potential harm of cellphones

Those who use their phone on the same side of the body for many years have higher odds for brain cancer (The Huffington Post, 2014). Some experts say there are safe ways to use cell phones, and these include “hands-free” devices that keep mobile phones away from your head and body during phone calls; limiting the frequency and length of calls to reduce exposure; using your phone in areas with better reception in order to allow them to transmit at reduced power, therefore decreasing exposure; and the use of protective devices such as shields for reducing radiofrequency field exposure.

 

References:

Westcott, L. (2014). “Heavy Cellphone Use Could Actually Cause Brain Cancer (Maybe)”. The Atlantic. Retrieved from: https://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2014/05/heavy-cellphone-use-could-actually-cause-brain-cancer-maybe/370818/

World Health Organization. (2014). “Electromagnetic fields and public health: mobile phones”. Retrieved from: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs193/en/

Zamon, R. (2014). “Use Of Cellphones Linked With Brain Cancer In Massive Study”. The Huffington Post. Retrieved from: http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2014/11/12/cellphones-brain-cancer_n_6147436.html

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