Radio Frequency Radiation Can Give You Cancer, But Your Cell Phone Is Probably Fine

Tuesday, 06 November 2018 - 1:02PM
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Tuesday, 06 November 2018 - 1:02PM
Radio Frequency Radiation Can Give You Cancer, But Your Cell Phone Is Probably Fine
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People have been worried about cell phone radiation for years. There seems to be a kind of poetic justice to it, if nothing else: wouldn't it be ironic if everyone's constant obsession with their phones was really killing them? Maybe then they'd put those little rectangles away and actually talk to people. Now a new, long-term study from the National Institute of Health has come out, and though it doesn't look like it will give a definitive answer, you'll likely see plenty of clickbait headlines like this one.

Long story short: your cell phone is probably not giving you cancer.

There's a lot to unpack in the study, but let's start with one of the key statements from the authors: according to John Bucher, a Senior Scientist at the National Toxicology Program (a division of the NIH): "We believe that the link between radio frequency radiation and tumors in male rats is real, and the external experts agreed." There's a couple things about that statement that should be noted: first, radio frequency radiation is the same type of radiation that cell phone emit, but that doesn't mean that Bucher and his colleagues exposed the rats to the same levels of radiation that a cell phone emits. According to him:

"The exposures used in the studies cannot be compared directly to the exposure that humans experience when using a cell phone. In our studies, rats and mice received radio frequency radiation across their whole bodies. By contrast, people are mostly exposed in specific local tissues close to where they hold the phone. In addition, the exposure levels and durations in our studies were greater than what people experience."

On top of that, notice how Bucher specifically mentions male rats in his first statement. Apparently, 2-3% of male rats developed a malignant form of brain cancer by the end of their exposures, while 5-7% developed tumors in their hearts. Female rats, meanwhile, seemed to have no significant rise in cancer as a result of exposure.

Do cell phones emit radiation? Yes. Is it enough to give you cancer? Probably not. If you want to dive into the science behind it all, check out this in-depth article. You can also read the full press release about the study here.
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