I can't count how many times I've heard people speculating, joking, or jokingly speculating that their cell phone could be causing cancer. It comes from a very reasonable place of discomfort: few people understand how radiation works, we put our phones next to our brains all the time, and technology in general often feels like it should be causing some kind of social illness.
So what is the problem? Cell phones have been around for three decades, shouldn't we have the answer to whether they lead to cancer in humans? Our current understanding of radio waves says that, in theory, phones shouldn't give you cancer. But we are still investigating to see if that is true in practice.
"There is a widespread exposure here in our society and we have to make sure we understand it."
Telephone radiation is not like radiation from, say, nuclear fusion. That's what's known as "ionizing" radiation - it's high energy and capable of damaging your DNA, which the researchers determined leads to cancer. Phones emit much lower energy radiation (lower even than visible light) that is considered “non-ionizing”. We know that non-ionizing radiation does not damage DNA in the same way that ionizing radiation does. But the question remains whether it could still react with the body in some other way that could lead to long-term exposure problems.
To learn the status of research on the link between telephones and cancer, we spoke with Jonathan Samet, dean of the Colorado School of Public Health and an expert in telephone radiation who led a World Health Organization task force on the topic. . In 2011, the WHO group considered phone radiation to be "possibly carcinogenic", which is less true than other classifications, but it is not a resounding "no" either. Six years later, Samet said the evidence in both directions is still mixed and that, for now, there remains "some indication" of risk.
"I am not saying that there is a public health crisis in any way," Samet said, "but I am saying that this is a very pervasive exposure in our society and we need to make sure we understand it."
Since we spoke with Samet, more details emerged of a large study that transmitted high levels of telephone radiation in rats and mice. While there are still quirks in the findings, the latest evidence has yet to find a link between phone radiation and cancer. In response, the FDA said, "Taken together, all of this research ... [has] given us confidence that current safety limits for cell phone radiation remain acceptable to protect public health."
For now, it's best not to waste too much time worrying - you're surrounded by cell phone signals, Wi-Fi signals, and all other types of radio frequency radiation coming in and going out, not just when you hold the phone up to your face. And until evidence suggests otherwise, all of this is still considered a lower cancer risk than eating red meat (which shouldn't be as scary, either).
As you will see, there is still not enough evidence that they can or cannot cause cancer, however it might be wise to take some steps to reduce your exposure to the waves emitted by your phone. Here are some tips
Original article (in English)