Does Cell Phone Use Increase Risk of Brain Cancer?

January 26th, 2012

In May, a panel of the World Health Organization (WHO) listed cell phones as a class 2b carcinogen, which means that it’s “possible” that cell phones, like some industrial chemicals, increase the risk for cancer.

This conclusion has been disputed by many scientists. But careful analysis of the best studies to date indicate that people who log the most cell phone minutes are more likely to develop tumors on the same side of the head that they hold the cell phone, compared with those who use cell phones less often.

 Disturbing Research:

The largest study of cell – phone use, known as Interphone, was conducted in 13 countries over a 10 – year period. The study, published in International Journal of Epidemiology, found that people who used cell phones for at least 1,640 hours over the 10 – year period, which is about 30 minutes a day, had a 40% higher risk of developing a glioma, a deadly type of brain tumor. 

The development of a brain tumor to the point that it can be detected often takes 20 to 30 years. The fact that these tumors are showing up after 10 years of exposure is disturbing because it is much faster than expected.

 The Interphone study defined “heavy use” as using a cell phone for about 30 minutes a day. How many minutes are you on your cell phone each day?

 While the debate rages on about whether cell phones are dangerous or not…Here are some ways to be safer about your use:

 The fine print in cell phone manuals usually advises users to hold the phone at least 7/8 of an inch away from the ear. Farther is better. Try to use speakerphone mode.

 Wait for good reception. Cell phones emit much higher levels of radiation when the antenna is sending out signals to search for a tower or satellite. These signals can travel hundreds of miles and the poorer the reception, the greater the radiation emitted by your cell phone.

 Use a hollow – tube headset. This is the safest type of headset because the last few inches, those closest to the ear, consist of a hollow tube. This hollow tube transmits sound like a stethoscope. Wired headsets need to be kept away from the body because the continuous wire that runs from the phone to the earpiece will expose you to some unnecessary radiation. Hollow – tube headsets can be purchased at

 Use “airplane mode.” Even when you’re not talking on a cell phone, the phone is sending out signals every few minutes to search for the nearest tower. Turn off the phone when you’re not using it. Or switch it to airplane mode so that it can’t send or receive signals, but you still can use the phone to listen to music, watch videos and check your calendar.

 Keep the phone on your desk when working. When the phone is switched on, don’t keep it in your pocket or attached to your belt. This is particularly important for men. Preliminary research indicates that men who keep their phones close to their bodies (often in holsters or pockets) have lower sperm counts and poorer sperm quality than those without this exposure. We do not know the effects on egg cells because they are more difficult to harvest.

 Text instead of talk. There’s a burst of radiation when you send or receive a text message, but the intensity and duration of the radiation are lower than when you talk. Texting is a better alternative to talking on your cell phone, but keep the phone as far away from your body as possible. Normal clothing, including leather, will not reduce your exposure.

 Don’t use your phone in a car, train or bus. Using a cell phone inside a metal vehicle can increase levels of radiation due to reflection and the fact that your cell – phone signal has to be higher to exit the vehicle. The best practice is to keep the phone off or in airplane mode and to check it periodically for messages. Then return messages by text or use a landline phone later.   


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