Cell Phones and Cancer?

The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) recently classified radiation from cell phones as "possibly carcinogenic."  


Cell phones emit small amounts of radiation in the form of radio waves as well as electromagnetic fields. While many scientists have believed that this very small amount of exposure is unlikely to produce health effects, the fact that so many people are spending so much time talking on cell phones has lead to studies exploring whether heavy usage could be bad for you. Over the last decade, there have been a number of scientific studies of this issue, some of which have shown no risk, while others have suggested an increased risk of certain types of brain tumors in persons who used cell phones many hours a day.


While the risk of cancer from cell phones remains controversial, the director of IARC commented that "it is important that additional research be conducted into the long-term, heavy use of mobile phones. Pending the availability of such information, it is important to take pragmatic measures to reduce exposure."  Agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have also stated that as a precautionary measure, individuals may want to take steps to reduce exposure to radiofrequency radiation from cell phones.

Reducing Radiation Exposure from Cell Phones

  • Reduce the amount of time spent on your cell phone.
  • Use speaker mode or a headset to place more distance between your head the phone (radiation exposure falls off rapidly as you move away from the phone).
  • Carry the phone at least one inch away from your body.
  • Use texting instead of calling.
  • If you frequently use your cell phone's alarm feature, do not place the phone near your head.
  • If you have children, take extra steps to reduce their exposure since they will likely have a lifetime of cell phone use.


Helpful links for more information:

U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Consumer Information, Minimizing RF Exposure
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Fact Sheet on Cell Phones
World Health Organization Fact Sheet on Cell Phones and Health


Information courtesy of  Alcoa's Global Health Committee