Do cell phones cause cancer?

From the Editors of E/The Environmental Magazine

Do cell phones cause cancer?

—Anjan Bhullar, Leawood, KS

Cell phones certainly do emit low levels of electro-magnetic radiation. While it is widely known that sufficient levels of non-ionizing radiation heat up body tissue and increase the risk for tumor growth, no conclusive link between cell phones and cancer has been found. “It’s difficult to collect reliable data on the potential harm caused by cell phone use,” Libby Kelley, executive director of the Council on Wireless Technology Impacts, says, “because of the newness of the devices.”

In 2001, a study of 420,000 cell phone users in Denmark was published in the U.S. Journal of the National Cancer Institute. The researches concluded that there was no link “between the use of [cellular] phones and brain tumors and cancers of the brain or salivary gland or leukemia.” They noted that a typical cell phone functions at a low power level, resulting in “a very low rise in brain temperature.” However, in a report published in the June 2002 issue of European Journal of Cancer Prevention, Swedish scientist Lennart Hardell made a link between brain cancer and older analog cell phones used for at least eight years.

If you don’t want to wait for widely accepted scientific evidence, and would rather be safe than sorry, Kelley says, “Cell phone users can limit their calls to less than two minutes. Don’t drive and talk, and use a hands-free kit to decrease the amount of radiation.”

CONTACT: Council on Wireless Technology Impacts, (415) 892-1863,