by Kimberly Allen, RN
With over 5 billion cell phones in use and the number climbing everyday the question about a relationship to developing cancer has become a regular topic of conversation. So what’s the answer? Well, mostly that depends on what you read. There have been numerous studies trying to determine if there is a link between cancer and cell phone use. All of them have produced conflicting results. So at this time there is no agreement as to whether or not cell phones pose a cancer risk and if so how much.
What is known is that there is a type of non-ionizing electromagnetic radiation emitted from cell phones and that it’s possible for that radiation to be absorbed by the tissues in the area where you hold your cell phone. It’s important to understand that “non-ionizing”means that it doesn’t cause damage to DNA or chemical bonds. The amount of non-ionizing electromagnetic radiation that you absorb depends on several factors including the amount of space between you and your cell phones atenna, the type of technology in your phone and the distance between you and the cell phone towers. However, despite this knowledge researcher’s are unable to show a consistant link between cancer and using cell phones. However, in 2011 the World Health Organization placed mobile phone use on a list of potential carcinogens along with chloroform, lead and engine exhaust. Experts believe more research is needed due to the constant evolution in phone technology as well as how we use them.
There appears to be 3 main concerns regarding the use of cell phones and the potential development of certain types of cancer. The first is that cell phones do emit a type of non-ionizing radiation, however, it’s important to remember as stated earlier, non-ionizing means that it does not damage DNA or chemical bonds. The second is that the number of cell phones in use has been steadily increasing. In the US alone the number of cell phone subscribers has trippled since 2000 and that’s not including all the “pay as you go” phones on the market that aren’t tracked as subscribers are. In some countries there are more “pay as you go”phones in service than phones with subcriptions or contracts making it difficult to estimate how many cell phones are actually in use. And the third is that cell phone technology has evolved and changed significantly. Today people use their cell phones to make most all of their calls. Many homes do not even have land lines any more, they rely soley on their cell phones. This means their on their cell phones more often and for longer periods of time. It’s this increased exposure that has researchers looking for the effects of long term exposure to the non-ionizing electromagnetic radiation. So far there have been studies that have looked at the non-ionizing radiation emitted from microwaves, and radar as well as other sources and there continues to be no “consistant evidence that non-ionizing radiation increases the risk of cancer.
Some researchers believe that the slight increase in the development of brain tumors since 1970 is more likely due to improvements in diagnostics as well as increased access to medical care rather than cell phone use , especially since cell phones weren’t widely used until the mid 90’s. So for now there is nothing to say that cell phones use increases the risk of cancer. However, there are ongoing long term studies of cell phone use and the potential to cause cancer.
Kimberly Allen is a registered nurse with an AND in nursing. She has worked in ACF, LCF and psychiatric facilities, although she spent most of her career as a home health expert. She is now a regular contributor to HealthAndFitnessTalk.com, dispensing advice and knowledge about medical issues and questions. You can reach her with any comments or questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.