Science and Technology

Cell Phones Cause Cancer?

Wait, what?

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  • All cell phones give off electromagnetic energy called radio-frequency (RF) radiation. [FDA]

  • Several studies on long-term exposure to RF suggest a link to brain cancer, tumors of the acoustic nerve and salivary glands, lower sperm count, headaches and effects on learning, memory, hearing, behavior, and sleep. [Time], [Consumer Reports]

  • RF is regulated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). [American Cancer Society]

  • In 2011, the International Agency for Research on Cancer classified RF as a possible carcinogen. [FDA

  • Coffee was once listed as a possible carcinogen. 

  • March 2018, the National Toxicology Program reported that “little is known about potential health effects of long-term exposure to cell phone radio-frequency radiation.” [U.S. Department of Health and Human Services]


Is the majority of the country at risk of developing health complications? Or should we not be worried?

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The majority of Americans own a cellphone.


We're not rats...

RF from cell phones is not powerful enough to cause cancer, “unless you’re a male rat bathing in cellphone radiation." [The Verge]



Safe enough

The following public statements have been made by scientific organizations and individual experts: 

  • National Cancer Institute (2016): "Radiofrequency energy... does not cause DNA damage that can lead to cancer."
  • U.S. Food and Drug Administration (2014): "According to current data, the FDA believes that the weight of scientific evidence does not show an association between exposure to radiofrequency from cell phones and adverse health outcomes". 
  • World Health Organization (2014): "To date, no adverse health effects have been established as being caused by mobile phone use."

Reduced risk

A 2006 study found a “reduced brain tumor risk” among long-term users of cell phones. [Journal of the National Cancer Institute]


Tumors and cancer

A handful of studies found a pattern of cell phone use and increased risk of brain tumors.

  • The National Institutes of Health (NIH) found male rats exposed to RF developed cancer. [Tech Crunch]

  • International Journal of Oncology (2008): “consistent pattern” of cell phone use and increased risk of developing glioma. [National Institute of Health]
  • Surgical Neurology (2009): long-term cell phone use (10+ years) “doubles the risk” of being diagnosed with glioma. [National Institute of Health]

DNA damage

2012 study in the Journal of Neuro-Oncology found "RF may damage DNA and change gene expression in brain cells" of mice. [National Institute of Health]



Age is a factor

Children may have an increased risk of negative health effects from cell phone radiation. [WebMD]


A 2008 study found that children under 8-years old absorb twice the amount of radiation into their brain as adults, due to lower skull thickness. [Consumer Reports]



  • Dec. 2017: the California Department of Public Health issued new guidelines, "How to Reduce Exposure to Radio-frequency Energy from Cell Phones".

  • May 2015: a group of 190 scientists from 39 countries urged the U.N., World Health Organization, and others to create stricter safety controls over cell phones. [World Health Organization]

  • The FCC, U.S. Government Accountability Office, and FDA agree there is no conclusive scientific evidence proving cell phone use causes cancer or other health issues.

Determining a link between RF and cancer is an “ongoing evaluation”...[FDA]

-Jeffrey Shuren, director of FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health.

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