When you hear the word cancer, it is easy to get chills along your spine. It is said that cancer affects every third person in some way, either that one self gets it or that someone in your vicinity does. And cancer is truly nothing to joke about.
One rumor that has flourished, for quite some time, is that our cell phones can cause cancer. Something that sounds extremely frightening considering how muchwe use our mobile phones in our everyday lives.
But is this really true?
Can our cell phones cause cancer?
So what is true? Does our mobile use lead to increased risks of cancer? In order to answer this question, we must first break down what is happening around our phones.
Your mobile phone emits electromagnetic radiation to receive and send data. Electromagnetic radiation may sound dangerous, but it is the same type of radiation that, for example, your car radio receives, the same type of radiation that your microwave oven uses to heat your food or that an X-ray uses to see if you have broken your leg. Even the sun emits this radiation.
Wait what?! X-ray and the sun? We all know that the sun can damage our skin and when we have to x-ray our teeth we must always have one of those heavy vest over us. That doesn’t sound so reassuring?
Electromagnetic radiation can be dangerous
Yes, some forms of electromagnetic radiation may be harmful to you. But it is important to know that this applies to the spectra with higher energy. This applies to radiation such as UV light and Gamma rays. This radiation has a higher frequency, which means they have more energy. So much energy that the radiation can damage your body’s DNA structure, which in turn can create mutations and cause cancer if genes that generate cell growth are hit.
This is probably something you have experienced if you have been burned in the sun. Namely, a tan is the body’s reaction when the skin’s DNA is damaged by UV rays.
The frequency in cell phones is too low to cause cancer
But the good news is that the radiation emitted from your mobile or your Wi-Fi is far too low to be harmful. Mobiles have long been at about 2 GHz and Wi-Fi at about 60 GHz. With the imminent 5G network, the frequency is expected to reach as high as 300 GHz, which is a big increase from before. But don’t worry too much about it, the lowest form of UV light has about 30,000,000 GHz. So well above 5G’s highest expected frequency.
Research has been carried out
Research has been done on the subject but no direct link between mobile use and cancer has been found.
Cancer Research UK says this:
”Research so far shows that it is unlikely mobile phones could increase the risk of brain tumours or other types of cancer.”
On their website you can read that there is no explanation for how our mobiles could cause cancer because the radiation is too weak to affect our DNA. Read more about Cancer Research UK here.
The Swedish radiation Safety Authority says the following:
“Extensive research has been carried out without it being possible to ensure any radiation protection-related health risks with mobile phone use.”
Mobile phones are said to cause brain tumors
The type of cancer most commonly said to be caused by cell phones is brain tumors. The reason why this particular type of cancer should be affected by our phones is probably because many times you hold the cellphone to your head when talking (maybe not as common now with the development of headphones). But no evidence that this claim is true has been found.
For example, there should then be a correlation between brain tumors and our increased mobile usage. Our use of mobile phones has increased massively in recent times. Between 1990 and 2016, this increased by as much as 500%. Had mobile phones caused brain tumors we should have seen a huge increase in these tumors over the same period, but no such correlation has been found. The increase in brain tumors is, over the same period, about 34%, and the increase is mainly due to the fact that we have become better at detecting and diagnosing this type of cancer.
But phone masts then, do they cause cancer?
Not only our mobile phones have been under the scrutiny when it comes to increased cancer risks. Even telephone masts have long had a bad reputation and some claim they can cause cancer. In an independent report from 2012, it was concluded that no evidence that exposure of telephone mast’s radiation can affect health. There are international safety standards that limit how much electromagnetic radiation a person may be exposed to. The radiation you are exposed to near a telephone mast is often more than a hundred times less than the given guidelines.
So should we be worried?
Research indicates that we do not have to worry about our mobiles causing cancer through radiation. This is because the energy emitted by the radiation is too low to affect our cells. With that said, there can of course be other things that researchers have not yet discovered. But so far, there is no real evidence that we should be afraid to use our phones.
Instead, we might have to worry more about the time we spend on surfing our phones that we can spend on being with our loved ones. But that’s a whole other matter.