Home Radiation Is cell phone radiation carcinogenic? There is no proof – so far

Is cell phone radiation carcinogenic? There is no proof – so far


BERLIN: Your wallet, your keys and – your cell phone, of course! If you’re like most people, you never leave home without this trusted trio. But our attachment to our phones has raised concerns that exposure to the radiation they emit is a health risk.

Mobile phones use radio frequency (RF) electromagnetic fields to send and receive voice and text messages. Sometimes called electromagnetic pollution or electrosmog, RF radiation is non-ionizing — it cannot break chemical bonds — but heats tissue in the area of ​​the body where the phone is held, says Julia Ketteler, research assistant at the Federal Institute German. Competence center for electromagnetic fields of the Office for Radiation Protection (BfS).

Susanne Weg-Remers, Head of the Cancer Information Service (KID) at the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ). explains how: “Imagine electromagnetic fields sending an impulse to the molecules that make up our body,” she says, adding that the impulse causes the atoms of the molecules in our cells to move faster.

“It’s essentially the biochemical equivalent of heat.”

The body can compensate for heat to some extent, she says, through a mechanism known in physiology as thermoregulation.

To avoid excessive heating of body tissues, manufacturers are required to ensure that their mobile phones meet strict RF emission limits. Given as a unit called Specific Absorption Rate (SAR), which is a measure of the amount of RF energy absorbed by the body when using a mobile phone, the limit in the European Union is 2 watts per kilogram.

This is the equivalent of a standard LED lamp, with a heat output of 4 watts, heating 2 liters of water, according to the BfS.

The less radiation a phone emits, the lower its SAR. Most cell phones, whether old or new, have a SAR well below the limit.

A database is accessible with the kind authorization of the BfS which shows the SAR of the telephones. The Xiaomi Poco F2 Pro has a SAR of 0.79 W/kg, for example, and the iPhone 12 has a SAR of 0.98 W/kg. Even the Samsung E1080, released in 2009, has a SAR well below the limit: 0.64 W/kg

The possible health effects of mobile phone use, particularly if RF magnetic fields are carcinogenic to humans, have been the subject of research for years. After examining more than 1,000 scientific publications, the BfS claims to see no link for the moment between the use of the mobile phone and the risk of developing a brain tumor, for example.

“Cancer occurs when our body’s cells start dividing and don’t respond to the stop signal from their environment,” says Weg-Remers, explaining that this usually happens by chance since the process by which DNA is copying during cell division is error-prone.

DNA “mistakes” or mutations can lead to cancer in your lifetime.

Among the factors that can increase the risk of cancer, she notes, are ultraviolet rays, X-rays, human papillomavirus (HPV) infections and unhealthy habits like smoking. Genetic predisposition may also play a role. But Weg-Remers excludes cell phone use.

“There is no evidence that electromagnetic fields emitted by cell phones can cause DNA mutations.”

Links were observed, however, when cellphones were still quite large and emitted strong electromagnetic fields, she says, but notes that the results of these studies are highly questionable from today’s perspective and have not been duplicated. in more recent studies.

Although the research data is reliable, according to Ketteler, researchers wait for new findings to reduce “residual uncertainty” due to the long-term nature of some studies and the meticulousness of scientific work. It is simply impossible, she says, to prove that there is absolutely no risk. – dpa