Last updated on: 11/9/2018 | Author: ProCon.org

Pro & Con Quotes: Is Cell Phone Radiation Safe?

General Reference (not clearly pro or con)

Cancer.gov, in a May 14, 2021 FAQ, “Cell Phones and Cancer Risk,” available at cancer.gov, stated:

“There are two main reasons why people are concerned that cell (or mobile) phones might have the potential to cause certain types of cancer or other health problems: Cell phones emit radiation (in the form of radiofrequency radiation, or radio waves), and cell phone use is widespread. Even a small increase in cancer risk from cell phones would be of concern given how many people use them. Brain and central nervous system cancers have been of particular concern because hand-held phones are used close to the head. Many different kinds of studies have been carried out to try to investigate whether cell phone use is dangerous to human health…

Cell phones emit radiation in the radiofrequency region of the electromagnetic spectrum. Second-, third-, and fourth-generation cell phones (2G, 3G, 4G) emit radiofrequency in the frequency range of 0.7–2.7 GHz. Fifth-generation (5G) cell phones are anticipated to use the frequency spectrum up to 80 GHz.

These frequencies all fall in the nonionizing range of the spectrum, which is low frequency and low energy. The energy is too low to damage DNA. By contrast, ionizing radiation, which includes x-rays, radon, and cosmic rays, is high frequency and high energy. Energy from ionizing radiation can damage DNA. DNA damage can cause changes to genes that may increase the risk of cancer…

The human body does absorb energy from devices that emit radiofrequency radiation. The only consistently recognized biological effect of radiofrequency radiation absorption in humans that the general public might encounter is heating to the area of the body where a cell phone is held (e.g., the ear and head). However, that heating is not sufficient to measurably increase body temperature. There are no other clearly established dangerous health effects on the human body from radiofrequency radiation.”

May 14, 2021

The American Cancer Society, in a June 1, 2020 article, “Cellular (Cell) Phones,” available at cancer.org, stated:

“Fifth generation (5G) cellular networks are now being rolled out in many parts of the United States and in other countries. 5G networks are capable of transmitting much larger amounts of data over shorter periods of time than previous generations (4G, 3G, etc.).

5G networks (and the phones that use them) operate on some higher frequency (higher energy) RF wavelengths than older generation networks (although newer phones can typically still use the older networks as well). But the newer 5G signals still use RF waves, so they are still forms of non-ionizing radiation, which is not thought to have the ability to directly damage DNA.

The studies that have been done so far to look at possible links between cell phone use and cancer have focused on older generation (mainly 2G and 3G) signals. At this time, there has been very little research showing that the RF waves used in 5G networks are any more (or less) of a concern than the other RF wavelengths used in cellular communication.”

June 1, 2020

PRO (yes)

Pro 1

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in a Feb 10, 2020 article, “Do Cell Phones Pose a Health Hazard?,” available at fda.gov, stated:

“The FDA’s physicians, scientists, and engineers regularly analyze scientific studies and publications for evidence of health effects of exposure to radio frequency energy from cell phones. The weight of nearly 30 years of scientific evidence has not linked exposure to radio frequency energy from use of cell phones to health problems, such as cancer…

The FDA also monitors and analyzes public health data on cancer rates in the U.S. population. The data clearly demonstrate no widespread rise in brain and other nervous system cancers in the last 30 years despite the enormous increase in cell phone use during this period. In fact, the rate of brain and other nervous system cancers diagnosed in United States has decreased for the last 15 years or so.”

Feb 10, 2020 - US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

Pro 2

Jeffrey Shuren, MD, JD, Director of the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health, in a Feb. 2, 2018 press release, “Statement From Jeffrey Shuren, M.D., J.D., Director of the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health on the Recent National Toxicology Program Draft Report on Radiofrequency Energy Exposure,” available at fda.gov, stated:

“I want to underscore that based on our ongoing evaluation of this issue and taking into account all available scientific evidence we have received, we have not found sufficient evidence that there are adverse health effects in humans caused by exposures at or under the current radiofrequency energy exposure limits. Even with frequent daily use by the vast majority of adults, we have not seen an increase in events like brain tumors. Based on this current information, we believe the current safety limits for cell phones are acceptable for protecting the public health.”

Feb. 2, 2018

Pro 3

Larry Junck, MD, Professor of Neurology at the University of Michigan Medical School, stated the following in his May 22, 2016 article “Should Cellphones Have Warning Labels?,” available at wsj.com:

“Consider that brain tumors have not increased in incidence in correlation with cellphone use. If cellphones were an important cause of brain tumors, we would have seen an increase perhaps starting in the 1990s, when cellphones came into widespread use, or starting several years later, if it took several years of cellphone use to cause a brain tumor. While the number of people diagnosed with brain tumors has risen, the increase has been mainly among the elderly, who use cellphones less than others. The increase started before the 1990s, and the numbers have leveled off. The increase is believed to be largely due to our improved detection of brain tumors using CT scans and MRI.

Also, there is no known scientific mechanism by which mobile phones might cause brain tumors. For carcinogenic chemicals and other environmental causes of cancer, we can generally show that these cause mutations in DNA or changes in other molecules, sufficient to explain the resulting cancers. However, radiofrequency emissions such as those emitted by cellphones generally pass through tissues without causing these effects.

Numerous epidemiologic studies considered together do not conclusively show an increase in risk of brain tumors associated with cellphone use.”

May 22, 2016 - Larry Junck, MD

Pro 4

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) stated the following in its “FAQS-Wireless Phones,” available at fcc.gov (accessed Sep. 17, 2013):

“All wireless phones sold in the United States meet government requirements that limit their RF energy to safe levels…

There is no scientific evidence that proves that wireless phone usage can lead to cancer or a variety of other problems, including headaches, dizziness or memory loss. However, organizations in the United States and overseas are sponsoring research and investigating claims of possible health effects related to the use of wireless telephones. The Federal government is monitoring the results of this ongoing research, and the FDA is participating in an industry-funded research project to further investigate possible biological effects.”

Sep. 17, 2013 - Federal Communications Commission (FCC)

Pro 5

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) stated the following on its webpage “Health Issues: Do Cell Phones Pose a Health Hazard,” available at fda.gov (accessed Sep. 19, 2013):

“Many people are concerned that cell phone radiation will cause cancer or other serious health hazards. The weight of scientific evidence has not linked cell phones with any health problems.

Cell phones emit low levels of radiofrequency energy (RF). Over the past 15 years, scientists have conducted hundreds of studies looking at the biological effects of the radiofrequency energy emitted by cell phones. While some researchers have reported biological changes associated with RF energy, these studies have failed to be replicated. The majority of studies published have failed to show an association between exposure to radiofrequency from a cell phone and health problems.

The low levels of RF cell phones emit while in use are in the microwave frequency range. They also emit RF at substantially reduced time intervals when in the stand-by mode. Whereas high levels of RF can produce health effects (by heating tissue), exposure to low level RF that does not produce heating effects causes no known adverse health effects.”

Sep. 19, 2013 - US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

CON (no)

Con 1

Anthony B. Miller, MD, faculty member at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, at the University of Toronto, et al., in an Aug. 13, 2019 study, “Risks to Health and Well-Being from Radio-Frequency Radiation Emitted by Cell Phones and Other Wireless Devices,” available at ncbi.nlm.nih.gov, stated:

“Radiation exposure has long been a concern for the public, policy makers, and health researchers. Beginning with radar during World War II, human exposure to radio-frequency radiation (RFR) technologies has grown substantially over time. In 2011, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) reviewed the published literature and categorized RFR as a ‘possible’ (Group 2B) human carcinogen. A broad range of adverse human health effects associated with RFR have been reported since the IARC review. In addition, three large-scale carcinogenicity studies in rodents exposed to levels of RFR that mimic lifetime human exposures have shown significantly increased rates of Schwannomas and malignant gliomas, as well as chromosomal DNA damage. Of particular concern are the effects of RFR exposure on the developing brain in children. Compared with an adult male, a cell phone held against the head of a child exposes deeper brain structures to greater radiation doses per unit volume, and the young, thin skull’s bone marrow absorbs a roughly 10-fold higher local dose. Experimental and observational studies also suggest that men who keep cell phones in their trouser pockets have significantly lower sperm counts and significantly impaired sperm motility and morphology, including mitochondrial DNA damage. Based on the accumulated evidence, we recommend that IARC re-evaluate its 2011 classification of the human carcinogenicity of RFR, and that WHO complete a systematic review of multiple other health effects such as sperm damage. In the interim, current knowledge provides justification for governments, public health authorities, and physicians/allied health professionals to warn the population that having a cell phone next to the body is harmful, and to support measures to reduce all exposures to RFR.”

Aug. 13, 2019

Con 2

Mark Hertsgaard, Environment Correspondent for the Nation, and Mark Dowie, author and investigative historian, in a July 14, 2018 article, “The Inconvenient Truth about Cancer and Mobile Phones,” available at theguardian.com, stated:

“Lack of definitive proof that a technology is harmful does not mean the technology is safe, yet the wireless industry has succeeded in selling this logical fallacy to the world. The upshot is that, over the past 30 years, billions of people around the world have been subjected to a public-health experiment: use a mobile phone today, find out later if it causes genetic damage or cancer. Meanwhile, the industry has obstructed a full understanding of the science and news organisations have failed to inform the public about what scientists really think. In other words, this public health experiment has been conducted without the informed consent of its subjects, even as the industry keeps its thumb on the scale.”

July 14, 2018

Con 3

Ronald L. Melnick, PhD, former Senior Toxicologist and Director of Special Programs in the Environmental Toxicology Program at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, stated the following in his Sep. 28, 2016 article “More on How Cellphones Are Linked to Brain Cancer,” available at jhnewsandguide.com:

“More recent evidence on health effects of cellphone radiation has strengthened the case for concluding that this radiation poses a cancer risk. The U.S. National Toxicology Program recently reported results from a study in which rats and mice were exposed to cellphone RFR for two years at exposure intensities in the range of cellphone emissions and that did not cause measurable increases in body temperature…

The findings of highly malignant and quite rare brain tumors and malignant Schwann cell tumors of the heart in the NTP study present a major public health concern because some of these same types of tumors had been reported in epidemiological studies of adult cellphone users. In addition the NTP reported DNA damage was induced in brain cells of exposed animals.”

Sep. 28, 2016 - Ronald L. Melnick, PhD

Con 4

Joel M. Moskowitz, PhD, Director and Principal Investigator of the Center for Family and Community Health at the University of California at Berkeley, stated the following in his May 22, 2016 article “Should Cellphones Have Warning Labels?,” available at wsj.com:

“The U.S. incidence of nonmalignant brain tumors has increased in recent years, especially among adolescents and young adults. It’s unlikely the increase was entirely due to improved detection because, according to one review, we would expect to see a plateau, then a reduction in incidence, which has not occurred. The most serious type of brain cancer has increased in parts of the brain near where people hold their phones. Observations that overall increases in brain cancer were not seen after the introduction of cellphones merely serve to illustrate that there can be a considerable lag between exposure to a carcinogen and the cancer’s diagnosis.”

May 22, 2016 - Joel M. Moskowitz, PhD

Con 5

Lennart Hardell, MD, PhD, Professor of Oncology and Cancer Epidemiology at the University Hospital in Orebro, Sweden, was quoted as stating the following in a Jan. 7, 2013 press release for the Bioinitiative 2012 Report, “BioInitiative 2012 Report Issues New Warnings on Wireless and EMF,” available at bioinitiative.org:

“There is a consistent pattern of increased risk for glioma (a malignant brain tumor) and acoustic neuroma with use of mobile and cordless phones…

Epidemiological evidence shows that radiofrequency should be classified as a human carcinogen. The existing FCC/IEE and ICNIRP public safety limits and reference levels are not adequate to protect public health.”

Jan. 7, 2013 - Lennart Hardell, MD, PhD