About three-quarters of the world's total population uses cell phones. No doubt, the percentage in US is even higher. As a Chicago personal injury lawyer and cell phone user, I have often wondered whether cell phones present any dangers to consumers in terms of cancer. After all, cell phones are usually no more than a few inches away from most US users. A Danish group recently completed extensive research on this issue and found no evidence of a link between cell phone use and cancer rates.
Cell phones work by sending signals to nearby cell towers through RF waves. These waves are a form of energy located between the spectrum of a FM radio wave and a microwave. According to the America Cancer Society, "like FM radio waves, mircrowaves, visible light and heat, [RF waves] are a form of non-ionizing radiation. They cannot cause cancer by directly damaging DNA. RF waves are different from strong types of radiation such as x-rays, gamma rays, and ultraviolet (UV) light, which can break the chemical bonds in DNA."
Most studies in the past have also found no link between cell phone use and cancer or brain tumors. However, as the American Cancer Society points out, all these studies have had "some important limitations that make them unlikely to end the controversy about whether cell phone use affects cancer risk." One limitation cited is that these studies have been unable to follow people for a sufficient period of time. After all, cancer causing exposure usually takes decades to develop. Another limitation is that cell phone use has been constantly changing over past decade in relation to both usage and technology. A third limitation is the inherent difficulty in quantifiably measuring cell phone use which has historically relied on peoples memories.
The most recent study examining the potential relationship between cell phone use and cancer is the largest of its type. Paid for by the Danish government, the study included an examination of over 350,000 people who used cell phones over a ten- year period. They found cell phone users did not have a higher cancer risk compared to those without cell phones. The study found the cancer risk to be "similar" between cell phone users and non-cell phone users. Likewise, the study found phone users were not more likely to develop brain tumors than non-cell phone users.
Whether heavy cell phone use can cause serious personal injury such as cancer or brain tumors appears unlikely based on recent studies. Indeed, the only clear danger presented by cell phones is they often distract the user's attention from more important matters like driving a car. Still, long term research is needed to determine whether cell phone use over a matter of decades present any increased risk of cancer or brain tumors. As the American Cancer Society explains, many cancers take more than a decade to develop. Until long term research is completed, there will always be some doubt on whether there are any dangerous associated with long term cell phone usage and cancer or brain tumors.
Associated Press, Largest Study On Cellphones, Cancer Finds No Link, October 21, 2011
American Cancer Society Website, Cell Phones, Last Revised 05/31/11.