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  • Writer's pictureDr. Karuturi Subrahmanyam

Do Cell Phones Cause Cancer?

Cell phones are devices that use radio waves to communicate with nearby towers. Radio waves are a type of energy that does not harm the DNA inside cells and cause cancer. However, some people are worried that cell phone use might increase the chance of getting brain tumors or other cancers in the head and neck area, because these areas are close to where the phone is usually held.

What does the research say?

Many studies have been done to see if cell phone use is related to cancer risk. Most of these studies have not found a clear or consistent evidence of higher cancer risk from cell phone use. For example:

  • A large study in Denmark followed more than 420,000 cell phone users for up to 21 years and found no higher risk of brain tumors or other cancers.

  • A study in the United States compared more than 5,000 people with brain tumors and more than 5,000 people without brain tumors and found no link between cell phone use and brain tumor risk.

  • A study in France followed more than 400,000 cell phone users for up to 18 years and found no higher risk of brain tumors or other cancers.

Some studies have suggested a possible link between cell phone use and certain types of brain tumors, such as glioblastoma multiforme, a rare and aggressive form of brain cancer. However, these studies have problems, such as small numbers of people, memory errors (people may not remember their cell phone use correctly), and lack of control for other factors that could affect cancer risk. Therefore, these findings are not sure and need to be checked by more research.

What do experts say?

The World Health Organization (WHO) has classified radio waves from cell phone use as “possibly carcinogenic”, which means there is some evidence of a possible link to cancer, but it is not strong enough to be certain. The WHO also says that “to date, no bad health effects have been shown as being caused by cell phone use” and that “more research is needed to clear up the possible role of radio waves in causing cancer”.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has said that “the weight of scientific evidence has not linked cell phones with any health problems” and that “there is no consistent or believable scientific evidence of health problems caused by the exposure to radio waves from cell phones”.

The American Cancer Society (ACS) has said that “there is no clear evidence that cell phone use increases the risk of cancer” and that “more research is needed to confirm or rule out any possible link”.

What can you do?

If you are concerned about the possible health effects of cell phone use, you can take some simple steps to reduce your exposure to radio waves, such as:

  • Use a hands-free device, such as a headset or speakerphone, or hold the phone away from your head when talking or listening.

  • Limit the time and number of calls you make or receive, especially when the signal is weak or when you are in a moving vehicle.

  • Avoid carrying your phone close to your body, such as in a pocket or bra, when it is switched on.

  • Choose a phone with a low specific absorption rate (SAR), which is a measure of how much radio waves are absorbed by the body.

Remember, cell phone use is only one of many factors that may affect your cancer risk. Other factors, such as your age, genetics, lifestyle, and environmental exposures, may have a bigger impact on your overall risk. Therefore, it is important to follow the general recommendations for cancer prevention, such as avoiding tobacco, eating a healthy diet, being physically active, maintaining a healthy weight, limiting alcohol intake, and protecting yourself from the sun.

Dr. Karuturi Subrahmanyam, MD, FRCP (London), FACP (USA)

Internal Medicine Specialist

Kify Hospital



Phone : 85000 23456

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