Good Question: Does Using Your Cell Phone Cause Cancer?

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — When an arm of the World Health Organization put cell phones on its list of possible carcinogens, it’s hard to not take notice. Frankly, since the first brick cell phones showed up more than twenty years ago, there have been questions about whether those phones could cause cancer. So, how dangerous are they, really?

“The studies are simply not of adequate scientific quality, to allow people like me who really want to know the answer, to know the answer,” said Dr. John Tursheim, Medical Director of Neuro-Oncology at the Virginia Piper Cancer Institute at Abbott Northwestern Hospital.

As for cell phones going on the list: “It’s not a definite, it’s not even a probable, it’s a possible,” said Tursheim, joining 240 other items. Some are scary, like the pesticide DDT, others include coffee and pickled vegetables.

It’s “a number of things that are probably not, the idea is: let’s look at it further,” said Tursheim.

Cell phones give off non-ionizing radiation. It doesn’t damage DNA or break chemical bonds like the ionizing radiation that comes from X-Rays or the sun.

“These cell phones are simply not high power devices, they’re simply low power,” Tursheim said.

“I certainly don’t think there’s definitive evidence in one direction or the other,” said Dr. Eric Nussbaum, the medical director of vascular neurosurgery at the National Brain Aneurysm Center at St. Joseph’s Hospital. “The big problem is that many people develop brain tumors. Almost everyone uses cell phones. Starting to connect cell phone usage or any other environmental topic is really difficult.”

Scientists have had a hard time finding any evidence that people with brain tumors used cell phones with more regularity than people without tumors.

One study did find that using a cell phone sped up brain activity for hours in the part of the brain closest to the phone.

“That suggests it could have an adverse effect, it could have no effect, it could have a beneficial effect. We just don’t know what it means,” said Nussbaum.

For those who want to be absolutely safe, using a Bluetooth adapter or an earpiece will work, even if you keep your phone in your pocket.

“Most of the tissues (in that area) aren’t that sensitive,” said Turhseim. “This is really a brain thing, if it’s anything.”

More from Jason DeRusha
  • Mark Edwards

    This is the stupidest thing I’ve heard yet, when I see people walking around, looking like “The elepahnt man” with tumors, then I’ll listen.
    This has more to do with business controls than consern for our health.

    • K.

      Don’t kill the messenger! Jason was only following up on what has been in the news lately and trying to get at the truth. I am of the belief that if someone thinks something with evidence is stupid, it’s a form of denial. Admit it… really don’t think this is stupid; you just don’t like the message because it hits too close to home.

    • Cancer Research Supporter!

      Mark ~
      I live with “The elephant man” with tumors (or as I call it ~ a Cancerous Brain Tumor Patient)! Please know that one of the hardest parts of Brain Cancer is not knowing a cause!!!!!!!
      Maybe you should gain a concern for others health and go walk through a cancer hospital to see how many people this affects!!!

  • Nick

    Sorry Jason, but this, like many of your questions, is not good at all. Just more fluff designed to scare the old people who watch WCCO.

  • Jenny

    I never believed it was possible either until a scientist who works at a very reputable local company saw me with my cell phone tucked into the waist of my pants…he warned me that I shouldn’t have the cell phone so close to my skin as it was a carcinogen. Even went so far as to say if I ever wanted more children I better stop carrying it there. He warned me that I would have burn marks on my skin from the radiation and he was right…I had red marks on my stomach which disappeared when I stopped carrying my phone like that! If the radiation can cause burns, it is possible it is doing other damage as well!!!

  • Mike

    40 years ago, doctors were smoking along with patients at the office and their were no concerns about the effects from doing that activity.
    In a society based on profit before anything else, I will be taking the warning seriously. You can not convince me that the known brain stimulation from cell phone use comes with no negative impact.

  • Thomas Keim

    cell phones cause brain damage just look at all the people who use one while they drive their vehicle and they don’t pay attenion

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