Are you worried about cell phone radiation? Here's everything you need to know

Are you worried about cell phone radiation? Here's everything you need to know

Some research links cell phone use with cancer risks, while other studies show that there is no correlation between the two. Here's a brief explanation of what you should and shouldn't be concerned about.

Should I worry about cell phone radiation if I spend quite a lot of time next to it during the day?

According to Emily Caffrey, an assistant professor of health physics at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, all cell phones, including smartphones, emit radiation. The same is true for Wi-Fi networks, radio stations, remote controls, and GPS devices. These devices use invisible energy waves to transmit voices, texts, photos, and emails to nearby cell towers, enabling communication across the globe. Despite the emission of radiation, nearly thirty years of scientific research, as acknowledged by health authorities, including the Food and Drug Administration, has not established a link between such exposures and medical issues such as cancer. 

Does a cell phone emit radiation that is hazardous to health?

Radiation can be different: for example, atomic bombs or X-ray machines emit energy called ionizing radiation that can damage DNA and cause cancer, said Dr. Howard Fine, director of the Brain Tumor Center at NewYork-Presbyterian Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York City.

However, smartphones emit energy that is non-ionizing radiation, so it is not powerful enough to cause such damage.

Why is there still concern about smartphone radiation?

Whereas WHO, FDA and other important health organizations agree that there's no evidence that smartphone radiation causes health problems, some studies link cell phone radiation to brain tumors. For example, this Interphone interview-based case-control study published in 2010 showed a correlation between one type of brain tumor and the highest levels of cellphone use. However, the researchers noted that "biases and error" prevented them from proving cause and effect.

According to Dr. Fine, it would be nearly impossible to see a direct association between cancer and cell phone use, because most people in the United States own cell phones, and other risk factors, such as smoking, unhealthy habits, genetics, air pollution, etc. could be culprits in this case. 

And yet, the Federal Communications Commission and its international counterparts set radiation limits for new phones, so that they are within the safety guidelines. Although, it doesn't mean that modern cell phones can be harmful because of radiation: "Many people mistakenly assume that using a cell phone with a lower reported SAR value necessarily decreases a user's exposure to RF emissions, or is somehow "safer" than using a cell phone with a high SAR value. While SAR values are an important tool in judging the maximum possible exposure to RF energy from a particular model of cell phone, a single SAR value does not provide sufficient information about the amount of RF exposure under typical usage conditions to reliably compare individual cell phone models. Rather, the SAR values collected by the FCC are intended only to ensure that the cell phone does not exceed the FCC's maximum permissible exposure levels even when operating in conditions which result in the device's highest possible – but not its typical - RF energy absorption for a user." as stated by Federal Communications Commission.  

If you want to dive more into the cell phone and cancer risks correlation, read this comprehensive analysis by the National Cancer Institution.