Of Cell Phone radiation

  • #1
A number of my relatives believe that radiation from cell phones is dangerous. After doing a bit of reading, I've found that the general scientific consensus is that this is not the case, and I myself don't see how low power, low frequency, non-ionising radiation can cause e.g. brain tumours - at least, not by directly causing stress to DNA.

However, there are still a few papers which conclude that cell phone use can cause health problems, e.g. lots by Hardell, and a few by others as well.

This article, though it does not seem the best source of information (by far), suggests that the radiation indirectly causes health problems by inciting harmful 'biochemical responses in the cell'.

Is a nondirect effect of cell phone radiation on health plausible? Are long term effects plausible? (Long term exposure is also something they are fixated on.)

They are still adamant on keeping phones at a distance, regardless of my (possibly poor) attempt to explain why (I think) the radiation is harmless. They call it a precaution, 'just in case something turns out to be harmful'.

My secondary question is: What sort of effects would sleeping in the same room as a charging phone have? I doubt there is anything drastic, but a relative frowned upon it and claimed some sort of increased electric field and long term effects etc. which I don't buy; but, at the same time, I don't know enough to give a confident response.
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
Khashishi
Science Advisor
2,815
493
I think you're not going to get much out of these forums other than repetition of the general scientific consensus. If you search too hard, you'll eventually find some evidence to confirm whatever biases you might have had.
 
  • #3
berkeman
Mentor
59,031
9,131
Thread closed for Moderation. Wikipedia and magazine articles are not valid scientific references...
 
  • #4
Drakkith
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
21,102
4,933
Thread closed for Moderation. Wikipedia and magazine articles are not valid scientific references...
To elaborate on Berkeman's post, it simply isn't always possible for us as moderators to verify the validity of public articles like wikipedia. Even if the wiki article references valid scientific publications, there's no guarantee the material is presented in the article in an accurate way. It's better to link the actual publication instead of the wiki article.
 
  • Like
Likes berkeman
  • #5
berkeman
Mentor
59,031
9,131
Update -- we are working on finding some good relevant peer-reviewed studies about this topic. There is nothing wrong with discussing this topic as long as the discussion is evidence-based. Thank you for your patience.

EDIT -- BTW, if anybody reading this thread has links to peer-reviewed studies about this topic, please send them to me and we will include them.
 
  • #7
Evo
Mentor
23,175
2,941
Here are more studies.

Do cell phones pose a health hazard?

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.
http://www.fda.gov/Radiation-Emitti...nessandEntertainment/CellPhones/ucm116282.htm

Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) program of the National Cancer Institute

The SEER Program of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) actively follows cancer statistics in the United States. If cell phones play a role in increasing the risk of brain cancer, rates would be expected to increase. However, between 1987 and 2008, SEER data shows that despite the sharp increase in heavy cell phone use in the U.S., the overall age-adjusted incidence of brain cancer did not increase. Additional information about SEER can be found at http://seer.cancer.gov/.
 
  • Like
Likes berkeman
  • #8
Evo
Mentor
23,175
2,941
Here is a link to a study from a very respected member of the PF. Thread re-opened. Please let's have a good discussion, using evidence-based peer-reviewed studies. Thank you.

http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Risk/cellphones
This states
Although there have been some concerns that radiofrequency energy from cell phones held closely to the head may affect the brain and other tissues, to date there is no evidence from studies of cells, animals, or humans that radiofrequency energy can cause cancer.

It is generally accepted that damage to DNA is necessary for cancer to develop. However, radiofrequency energy, unlike ionizing radiation, does not cause DNA damage in cells, and it has not been found to cause cancer in animals or to enhance the cancer-causing effects of known chemical carcinogens in animals (35).
 
  • Like
Likes berkeman
  • #9
berkeman
Mentor
59,031
9,131
Hey Evo, I don't think the SEER/NCI link made it into your great post...?
 
  • #10
Evo
Mentor
23,175
2,941
Hey Evo, I don't think the SEER/NCI link made it into your great post...?
It's in the FDA.gov link.
 
  • #11
NascentOxygen
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
9,244
1,072
A Sydney neurosurgeon who has a reputation for accepting cases of advanced brain tumors that no other surgeon will touch has for years been warning that he sees a disproportionate number of certain tumors on that side of the head where heavy users of mobile phones usually hold their device.

He is on a team who reviewed long term studies:

http://www.researchgate.net/publication/24241050_Cell_phones_and_brain_tumors_a_review_including_the_long-term_epidemiologic_data [Broken]

click on "full text"

Summary: heavy mobile use can double the risk of certain tumors
 
Last edited by a moderator:
  • #12
russ_watters
Mentor
20,240
6,814
So, throughout history, has there been a prevailing side of the head for brain tumors, or did that change in the past 10 years? Do people consistently hold their phone on the same side of their head?
 
  • #13
NascentOxygen
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
9,244
1,072
Do people consistently hold their phone on the same side of their head?
Most users consistently favour one side, apparently.
 
  • #14
.Scott
Homework Helper
2,677
985
I'm certainly not convinced that cell phone use causes cancer, but I am very suspicious of this articles characterization of cell phone emissions as "low level RF".
"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."

Because of the proximity to the head, the heating effects cannot be discounted as biologically insignificant. Consider this easy-to-replicate experiment:
[hoax video deleted]

Here is a link to a study from a very respected member of the PF. Thread re-opened. Please let's have a good discussion, using evidence-based peer-reviewed studies. Thank you.

http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Risk/cellphones
This article states: "The only known biological effect of radiofrequency energy is heating. The ability of microwave ovens to heat food is one example of this effect of radiofrequency energy. Radiofrequency exposure from cell phone use does cause heating; however, it is not sufficient to measurably increase body temperature.".
I'm not saying that the article as a whole is not valuable. But this remark is quite off the wall. Human body temperature is regulated. You could burn an ear off without raising body temperature at all. (I hope I don't need to cite a reference for that.)
 
Last edited by a moderator:
  • #15
Evo
Mentor
23,175
2,941
Scott, you have to remember that where extremely large doses of something can harm or kill, small doses of the same thing are harmless. People worried about or trying to cause undue panic use the tactic of misleading people about the amount of radiation. The studies show that the existing levels aren't harmful.
 
  • #16
russ_watters
Mentor
20,240
6,814
Consider this easy-to-replicate experiment:
C'mon, you have to put more thought into the issue than that. That "experiment" is an obvious hoax. Have you never popped popcorn before? Do you have no idea how much wattage it takes? If all of those phones are operating at peak output, they are still more than a hundred times too weak to pop the popcorn -- not counting the fact that they are not in an enclosure to concentrate the radiation, which probably puts them another one or two orders of magnitude too weak.
 
  • #17
.Scott
Homework Helper
2,677
985
C'mon, you have to put more thought into the issue than that. That "experiment" is an obvious hoax. Have you never popped popcorn before? Do you have no idea how much wattage it takes? If all of those phones are operating at peak output, they are still more than a hundred times too weak to pop the popcorn -- not counting the fact that they are not in an enclosure to concentrate the radiation, which probably puts them another one or two orders of magnitude too weak.
You're right. I was fooled. The maximum output per cell phone is half a watt - but not at the best frequency for heating water.

If you put a 0.41 watt Christmas mini-light bulb against your head (the kind that are normally in strings of 50 or 100) - you would not absorb the full 0.41 watts - but it could feel warm. You might be absorbing a similar amount with a cell phone - but it would not be heating just the surface of the skin and it would not be as concentrated.

If you wanted to heat your ear more effectively, you should wear an earmuff.
 

Related Threads on Of Cell Phone radiation

Replies
30
Views
8K
  • Last Post
Replies
12
Views
3K
  • Last Post
Replies
3
Views
2K
  • Last Post
2
Replies
43
Views
9K
Replies
19
Views
5K
Replies
11
Views
6K
Replies
4
Views
4K
Replies
3
Views
4K
Replies
3
Views
28K
Top