Cell phones and cancerDo cell-phones cause cancer ?

Expert Answers
bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

According to the National Cancer Institute, there is no hard evidence that cell phone usage causes any form of cancer. However, the radiofrequency energy that is released is a form of radiation, and the Institute believes that more research is necessary. Key facts:

     Cell phones emit radiofrequency energy, a form of non-ionizing electromagnetic radiation, which can be absorbed by tissues closest to where the phone is held... The amount of radiofrequency energy a cell phone user is exposed to depends on the technology of the phone, the distance between the phone’s antenna and the user, the extent and type of use, and the user’s distance from cell phone towers... Studies thus far have not shown a consistent link between cell phone use and cancers of the brain, nerves, or other tissues of the head or neck. More research is needed because cell phone technology and how people use cell phones have been changing rapidly. (National Cancer Institute)

enotechris eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Any long term exposure to the types of radiation that cell phones generate can't be good, but neither is sitting in the Sun for too long.  Getting a tan and getting skin cancer aren't the same thing, but they are points on the continuum of sunlight exposure.  I'm guessing cell phone exposure might have something analogous.  It will be interesting to see if cancer rates located around the head and brain increase over time.  When she was very little, I never let my daughter chat for any length of time on my cell phone, since her skull was much smaller than mine, and what radiation that would affect my skin and skull could quite likely penetrate further into her developing brain.  Number 7's comment about microwaves makes a good point -- they may leak radiation, but is long term exposure harmful?  Then again, anyone seen the youtube of the cell phones popping kernels of corn?  

clairewait eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I agree with everything that has been posted so far.  Keep in mind also, that there was a time when microwaves were the hot "cancer-causing" agent.  Like most things, when a fad becomes big in a short amount of time, there will always be studies on how the fad could potentially be negative.  Cell-phones are certainly a booming commodity right now, so naturally the idea that they must in some way be harmful to our health is going to be a hot topic.

Rather than looking at cell phones as cancer-causing, there is probably more truth in looking at the rise of cell-phone caused automobile accidents and deaths.

stolperia eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In the overall scheme of time, cellphones haven't been around for that many years. There hasn't been enough time gone by as yet for any final conclusions to be drawn in answer to that question. My totally unmedical guess is that there are so many other variables that could be connected to cellphone use as to make it quite difficult to draw direct connections between cellphone use and cancer.

If evidence is found to show conclusively that there are problems, it will be interesting to see how we as a society will respond.

vangoghfan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I keep reading claims on both sides of this issue. Apparently the current thinking (see link below) is that there is as yet no evidence of a cause-and-effect relationship.  Surely this is a matter that will and should continue to be studied.


literaturenerd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I, too, have seen research on both sides. Personally, what I think is happening is that some researchers are simply looking for something to study. The areas which bring the most controversy take in quite a bit of research/grant money. If one were to wish to study something which would affect a lot of people, cell phones and cancer would be a good place to "stir the pot."

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I don't think that they do.  It seems like there would surely be more cases of cancer caused by phones by now if they really did.  Since people use them so much, there's been plenty of opportunity for the epidemic to show up.  But as the first post says, there will surely be more research done.  I wonder what would happen if they were actually shown to cause cancer...

accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I agree with other editors, pointing to the fact that we have not seen a massive increase in cancer amongst cel phone users. This is the central weak point in the argument that use of cell phones does lead to cancer. However, I am sure that as technology increases and becomes more and more pervasive we will as a society continue to ask these kinds of questions.

mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Have you noticed all the disclaimers on products and cautions on medicine and other products?  In this litigious society, perhaps, it is necessary to keep everyone prepared to sue if something happens to them. At any rate, there is always much hype about products nowadays in America, home of more lawyers than the rest of the world.

wanderista | Student

In my opinion, it's all just speculation. Until it's indefinitely proved, I try not to believe it. However, cell phones do produce significant amounts of radiation that does enter your brain and may disrupt or alter functions in your brain.

just-s | Student

well everyone seems to be saying this, but me opinion is that it is not true! so many people sit 24/7 with their phones but nothing happend to them! 

ajprincess | Student

I have read about it and many at times i have even heard about it by my friends and my parents but i dont think that it contains such harmful substances that it may be so fatal to cause cancer

meganp0504 | Student

I dont believe cell phones cause cancer but there is a possibility it does cause your brain has to think none stop....but alot of people have cell phones sooo doesnt that mean that alot of us would of cancer....Its amazing what the mind believe and think and interesting how the body functions but yes i guess you could get brain cancer from all the thinking but thats just whAT I BELIEVE

eaamon | Student

the goverment run by big business will set up the answers they want you to hear.

back as far as the early 1990s there was a case of a Fl. lady who used a brick for selling real estate. I believe she was on the phone constantly. after two years she developed brain cancer. I saw x-rays of it in her head. she tried to sue M-otorola who made it but some how the government wanted it squashed. i think the government had several contracts with them at teh time

it scared me out of ham radio then as the cancer was in the exact same shape as the antenna of the old brick. I do not know how many watts they ran on those but todays cell phone I am told run less than a watt.

the cell phone I do not think is of much concern. to me it is the cell towers. I think they put out about 1000 watts each antenna. at those frequencies it is enough to cook meat in a microwave oven or pop corn just fine.

the big concern in the early days of cell phones was cataracts. due to testing done in labs then. but it was ignored.