No doubt, cell phones have changed the way we live, and while much of modern technology has made daily life easier, research indicates cell phone use isn’t without its dangers. The more scientists study, the more they find a strong connection between cell phone’s emitted radiofrequency energy and cancer–especially brain cancer.
Why Are Scientists Worried about Cellphones and Cancer?
In 2017, 95% of adults reported using a cell phone of some kind. A British study found that young adults spend almost ⅓ of their waking hours on their phones, and we know overuse of screens leads to a whole host of issues, like elevated stress, decreased sleep, and increased forgetfulness. But what’s most troubling, some scientists say, are the radio waves released by the devices we can’t seem to put down.
So what is this harmful stuff our phones are giving off? Radiofrequency (RF) energy is a variety of ionizing radiation, and our bodies absorb it. Even though these are lower-frequency waves, they still heat human tissue by engaging its molecules. And because cell phones are constantly interacting with cell phone towers, as long as they’re turned on and in active mode, they’re emanating these molecule-changing waves.
A recent study conducted by the National Toxicology Program has drawn a clear line between cell phone radiation and cancer. Scientists tested the effects of RF radiation in 3,000 rats and concluded that there is undeniable evidence tying RF radiation to heart schwannomas (a mass wrapped around a nerve that can become cancerous) and gliomas–a common type of brain cancer.
In 2011, the World Health Organization designated cell phones a “possible carcinogenic.” Recent research, though, suggests its cancer-causing properties are more probable than possible, and many experts in the field expect the status to change.
Are Children More Susceptible?
Because children’s nervous systems are still developing, they could be especially vulnerable to harmful radio waves. Some scientists argue, too, that because their heads are smaller, they experience a proportionally larger scope of exposure to cell phone emissions. Ultimately, whether or not children are at a heightened risk has yet to be sufficiently studied, but that’s changing. Scientists at Spain’s Centre for Research in Environmental Epidemiology have been studying 2,000 young people with brain cancer to identify specific risks. The findings of this study should be published in 2018.
What Can We Do to Prevent Cancer?
Cutting back on cell phone use can seem daunting. But the link between mobile devices and cancer is only getting stronger. To mitigate your phone’s harmful emissions, consider doing the following:
- Use a landline as much as possible
- Keep calls brief
- Go hands-free
- Wait until you have clear reception to make a call
- Don’t carry your phone on your person
- Use a laptop (which emits fewer harmful waves) when possible
Technology changes quickly, and it can take the scientific community a while to catch up. But now, decades into the cell phone age, the research is coming in, and the results are loud and clear. To minimize your risk of developing cancer, be sure you unplug when you can–or at least hook up that bluetooth.