Anna Gragert
May 06, 2016 2:20 pm
Paramount Pictures

We’ve reached a point in time when we’re no longer shocked to see “cancer” and “cell phones” in a headline. Yet, though we’ve witnessed these two things being connected again and again, we’ve never actually looked for a definitive answer. I mean, do cell phones actually cause cancer?

Touchstone Pictures /

Sci Show reports several studies have stated that there’s a connection between the two, but the results don’t add up. One research project conducted in the United Kingdom concluded that cell phone use was tied to a tumor called acoustic neuroma (it sits in the nerve leading from the ear to the brain). However, even after examining subjects for seven years, the tumors didn’t increase as cell phone use did. The study’s authors ended up stating that it was all a statistical fluke.

Another examination performed by the World Health Organization had people report their own cell phone use (which, as you can imagine, wasn’t always accurate). They ended up finding that people who used their phones infrequently had a lower risk of glioma (a type of nerve cell tumor related to brain cancer) than those who didn’t use them at all. Since one wouldn’t expect not using a phone to be more detrimental, the results don’t make sense and lead us to believe that the participants reported their cell phone usage incorrectly. In other words: Cell phones did not promote an increase in cancer.

These studies didn’t find anything incriminating because cell phones don’t emit the kind of radiation that can damage your DNA. Before we get into the exact type of radiation that is emitted, let’s first review the electromagnetic spectrum. It ranges from low energy (radio and microwaves) to high energy (gamma and x-rays). The higher the energy on the spectrum, the higher the frequency.

Sci Show /

If an electromagnetic wave comes in contact with an atom, it’s able to give some energy to that atom. If it gives the atom too much energy, then it has the ability to push out one of the atom’s electrons. This only happens when ionizing radiation is involved, since it can break chemical bonds within cells and cause cancer.

Non-Ionizing radiation, on the other hand, cannot knock out electrons and will not cause cancer. It doesn’t have a high enough frequency to do so, so no matter how strong it may be, it will never be able to battle with an atom’s electrons. When it comes to our cell phones, they are way beneath the cutoff between ionizing and non-ionizing radiation. They, in fact, emit Radiofrequency (RF) energy.

It’s also important to look at the numbers. When cigarettes became increasingly popularity, the lung cancer population unfortunately grew in size. The same hasn’t happened with cell phones – though about 7 billion people use them.

So ultimately, you can chat on the phone as much as you please without like totally buggin’.