Is Cellphone Usage Linked to Cancer?

Man talking on cell phone.

As cell phone usage has drastically increased over the past 15 years (with an estimated 395.9 million mobile subscribers in 2016) many Americans begged the question, “can cellphone use cause cancer?” Let’s look at some of the facts concerning cell phones to see if there is substantial evidence behind the fear.

The Idea that Cellphones Cause Cancer
This idea became prevalent in the early 2000s when cancer research was flourishing and many people suspected that telecommunications were a root cause of some types of cancer. This is due in part to the term “radio frequencies” and its prevalence in telecommunications. Radiofrequency (RF) is non-ionizing radiation, and these frequencies are the same type of energy that microwaves utilize, but the concentration of RF is significantly lower in cellphones. What this means is that RF’s from cell phones don’t have enough energy to cause cancer by directly damaging the DNA inside cells.

Exposure & RF
When people hear the term exposure, they typically think of harmful substance exposure that leads to adverse side effects. This correlation between exposure and medical mishaps stems from movies and pop culture, but in reality, exposure just means being in contact with something. As it relates to RF and cell phones, people are exposed to radio frequencies when they use their cellphone. However, studies have shown no significant correlation between cellphone RF exposure and cancer. For this reason, being exposed to cellphone RF is not a concern that you should be worried about.

RF & Other Concerns
While cellphone RF is not a concern in regards to cancer, medical professionals have determined that RF from cell phones may pose a risk to the functionality of pacemakers. For this reason, medical professionals suggest that people with pacemakers should take simple precautions against exposing their pacemaker to RF through choices like not leaving their phone in their shirt pocket close to their pacemaker.