Can Radio Frequency (RF) Radiation From A Cell Phone Really Cause Cancer?

Photo Credit Goes To

After watching this WTHR Channel 13 story by Bob Segall, I said oh boy. Something else to be paranoid over. Yes I use a cell phone, and my ears perked up.

There has been concern over the connection of tumor growth in rats when exposed to radio-frequency after a major cell phone study.

Non-ionizing radiation is released by antennas inside the phone act similar to a low powered microwave when you stream videos, talk on the phone, turn on blue tooth, WiFi, and other cell phone functions.

According to the American Cancer Society, many factors can affect the amount of RF energy to which a person is exposed, including:

  • The amount of time the person is on the phone.
  • Whether or not the person is using the speaker mode on the phone or a hands-free device. Using one of these allows the phone to be held away from the head.
  • The distance and path to the nearest cell phone tower. Cell phones adjust their power to use the minimum amount for a good signal. Being farther away from the tower requires more energy to get a good signal, as does being inside a building.
  • The amount of cell phone traffic in the area at the time. Higher traffic may require more energy to get a good signal.
  • The model of phone being used. Different phones give off different amounts of energy.

How can you measure RF? 13 investigates bought a RF meter to see just how much radiation is released by cell phones. The test was pretty interesting! The intensity of the electromagnetic field surrounding each cellphone is measured and analyzed. The results depend on the features that a user is using. For example, do you have your WiFi, blue tooth on? Are you watching videos? Do you have an iPhone or an Android?

The owner’s manual and the user agreement inside the phone (who looks at that?) advises you to not hold phone close to your body. Even if it’s in your pocket, it’s releasing radiation because it’s connected to a network.

Photo Credit Goes To WTHR (Channel 13 Indianapolis)

For years, there’s been debate about that radiation, or the transmission of invisible electromagnetic energy and whether it can cause cancer or not.

Years of conflicting results from studies+ increased use of cell phones+ worries about a brain cancer connection convinced the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to summon a study to analyze cell phone radiation and any and all potential health issues that could result from exposure. In 1985, there were 340,000 cell phone users. Today, two thirds of Americans are smartphone users. The number of brains were exposed to cell phones have increased but brain cancer cases in the U.S. during that time period didn’t change. Dr. Mahua Dey, a brain surgeon at the IU Health Neuroscience Center in Indianapolis, told WTHR she has observed a small increase in brain cancer cases in recent years. But she’s not yet ready to connect that increase to cellphones. On the other hand, the results came in from the Illinois Institute of Technology. According to Dr. David McCormick, he said based on the animal studies, there is a possible risk that RF radiation is potentially carcinogenic in humans.

During WTHR’s story, CTIA (a trade group that lobbies for the cell phone industry) issued this statement:

“The safety of cellphone consumers is important to CTIA and the wireless industry. CTIA and the wireless industry follow scientific research relating to the safety of cellphones, including the release of the National Toxicology Program’s partial findings. The larger scientific community will consider the partial findings, as well as the complete reports when they are released, in the context of the many other scientific studies conducted over several decades. Numerous international and U.S. organizations, including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, World Health Organization, and American Cancer Society, have determined that the already existing body of peer-reviewed and published studies shows that there are no established health effects from radio frequency signals used in cellphones.”

But there’s studies that’s questioning CTIA’s statement now.

Several in the cell phone industry mentioned that the federal government has ensured safe exposure limits for cellphone radiation. Each cellphone must pass a radiation test, known as the Specific Absorption Rate (SAR). All cellphones sold in the U.S. must fall at or below the Federal Communications Commission SAR limit of 1.6 watts per kilogram.

During (SAR) testing, the radiation level for each cellphone is measured by taping a cellphone to the ear of a human plastic head that is filled with human-like fluid. Robotic sensors helps figure out the maxium amount of radiation that makes it inside the human brain.

There’s many factors that are not considered for the FFC’s testing and exposure standards, including that kids and pregnant women absorb radiation differently. The concern is that the standards were set 20 years ago, and they are based on the acceptable amount of RF absorbed by a 200-pound man.

Dey says there’s not enough data to make a link. Others mentioned that cell phones haven’t been used long enough to build enough evidence. McCormick said it might take decades to see any and all damage done from this kind of RF exposure (cell phones only have become a thing 15, 20 years ago). Right now, there’s not too much direct scientific evidence to say that a person will get brain cancer from using a smart phone, but I rather be safe than sorry.

Here’s WTHR’s list of what you should do:

Photo Credit Goes To WTHR (Channel 13 Indianapolis)
  • Keep calls short.
  • Text instead of call.
  • Use Skype or Google Hangouts instead.
  • If you use your cell phone, instead of putting the phone up to your ear, turn on the speaker phone or use headphones.
  • Don’t keep cellphone in pocket, socks, pillow, or bra (Keeping your cellphone at a distance can greatly reduce your exposure to RF radiation). I’m guilty of putting my phone in my pocket.
  • Here’s a list of cell phones with low radiation levels.

Here’s the one I’m adding. Meet the people you want to talk to in person. Friends if you are reading this, I was already in the hospital for one health issue. I’m not going back for another. Please don’t get mad at me if I don’t want to answer my cell phone. Let’s meet in person and talk instead.


Hello! I’m Alesha! I’m a musician, actress, entrepreneur and writer and recent hospital patient (I still can’t believe that is real). Follow on Twitter. If you like what I’m writing, give me a heart and share! :) I like hearts. Let me know what you want me to write! Click here!

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