When cell phones first hit the scene it didn’t take long for paranoid rumors to start surfacing regarding the devices causing cancer in users. The cancer rumors have floated around for more than twenty years now, though there hasn’t really been any substantiated evidence to support the fears. That may be changing soon. Recent studies have shown a definite link between cell phone radiation and cancer in lab rats. Now the debate is whether or not that same radiation will actually cause cancer in humans.
It’s been proven that the kind of ionizing radiation given off by things like x-ray machines destroys molecules in the body and indeed increases cancer risks. Cell phones give off a radio-frequency radiation, which is non-ionizing. The National Toxicology Program in the U.S. has just wrapped up a 2-year study that suggests that when lab rats are exposed to RF radiation—even very low amounts—they indeed run a higher risk of developing a rare tumor called a schwannoma.
The study is the largest of its kind in history. The National Toxicology Program tested 3,000 rats as part of this study. Similar studies were conducted in Europe, but there were only 2,500 rats tested. There were other differences between the U.S. and the European studies, too. The U.S. focused strictly on near-field RF radiation exposure to show the effects of cell phone usage. The European test studied far-field exposure, focusing on the kind of RF radiation given off by things like laptops and tablets. The results of both tests were pretty similar.
In both studies, the male rats exposed to the RF radiation had a much higher probability of developing schwannomas of the heart than the rats that were part of the control group. Now the studies are focusing on whether or not the RF radiation exposure produces similar results in humans, where heart schwannomas are incredibly rare.
Cell phones, as well as other wireless devices, give off a continual stream of RF radiation, even if you’re not actively using them. That’s because when they’re turned on they are constantly communicating with cell towers. The further you keep devices away from your body, the lower your exposure is to the radiation.
Despite the results of the rodent test, the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health maintains that the current safety restrictions for cell phones and wireless devices are acceptable for protecting the public health.