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Do mobile phones cause brain cancer?

Since mobile phones hit the consumer market 30 years ago, medical professionals have been monitoring whether there is a connection between cell phone use and brain cancer. Even more questions arise as 5G phones become more prevalent.

The connection between cellphones and cancer may stem from ideas like this: Mobile phones use radio-frequency radiation, and radio-frequency radio waves can cause cancer, therefore mobile phones cause cancer. There are also suggestions that because there has been an increase in brain cancer over the last 20 years, it must be because cellphones have become more prevalent.

Well, the BBC show “Truth or Scare” claims to have debunked the myth that mobile phones increase our risks for tumors in the brain.

The truth about mobile phones and cancer

A scientist tells BBC’s “Truth or Scare” the amount of radio waves emitted by mobile phones is so small, it doesn’t damage cells in our bodies. They found no evidence that should cause worry.

Why, then do we see more brain tumors? Is it mere coincidence that brain cancer has increased at the same time cellphone usage has?

The reason we’ve seen more diagnoses of brain cancers is because the scientific community has gotten better at detecting cancers, the BBC scientist says. In fact, they point out that the most significant health risk of mobile phones is distracted driving (and distracted walking).

Research about mobile phones and cancer

In the United Kingdom, brain cancer diagnoses have increased 34% over the past 20 years. But, as Cancer Research UK (CRUK) points out, cell phone ownership in the UK rose by 500% between 1990 and 2016. So if phones were to blame for the increase, CRUK researchers say the rate of brain cancer would be much higher.

In the U.S., the National Cancer Institute tells us there are three reasons that make us worry about cell phones and brain cancer:

  • Cell phones emit radio-frequency radiation from their antennas. The head is nearest to the antenna.
  • The number of cell phone users has increased rapidly.
  • The time we spend on cell phones has increased.

Here’s the good news: Mobile phones emit non-ionizing radiation. They’re safe.


Related: Do AirPods and other EarPods cause cancer? Here’s the scary research


If you’re still concerned about low-energy radiation exposure from your mobile phone, the American Cancer Society suggests using an earpiece, although some research suggests ear buds can cause cancer. You can also stick to cell phones for shorter conversations or when a landline is not available.

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