Popular Technology Myths – Can Cellphones Cause Cancer?

Have you come across the rumor that the radiation used for cellphone or mobile communication can cause cancer? If it were true almost every person on Earth would be at severe risk of developing cancer sooner or later. Let us take a look at some of the observed facts to understand whether cellphone communication can actually cause cancer.

What is Cancer?

In a typical human adult, there are hundreds of trillions of living cells. In numbers, around 600,000,000,000,000. Each normal cell contains the same genetic material.

In simple terms, cancer is a mutation of the genetic material (in humans it is in the form of DNA or DeoxyRibo Nucleic Acid). This particular form of mutation causes affected cells in our body to keep multiplying even after the normal cell density is exceeded. Thus, tumors are formed with high mass-density, and cancerous or malignant tumors spread to other parts of the body. Benign tumors on the other hand stop growing after a particular stage.

Once a cell is formed with mutant genes, it keeps multiplying through cell-division and leads to the formation of tumors. Cancerous cells grow and multiply at a faster rate than normal cell. Unless such tissue is removed, the mutant DNA containing cells keep growing in number until one or more vital organs get affected ultimately leading to death.

What causes Cancer?

The mutation in genetic material or DNA which leads to cancer can be caused by several factors. Basically it is a chemical reaction which changes the DNA structure.

Some well-known cancer-causing or carcinogenic agents are:

  1. High-energy electro-magnetic radiation like UV-Ray, X-Ray or Gamma-Ray.
  2. Aromatic chemicals like Phenol (commonly called Phenyl) and Napthalene (the white balls used in basins, toilets, cupboards etc). Certain chemicals in tobacco (present in cigarettes) too.
  3. Viruses which modify the DNA of infected cells.
  4. In some cases, external agents might not be necessary for developing cancer. Such individuals are genetically predisposed, and develop cancer at some stage in their lives without excessive exposure to any of the above agents.

There are probably several unknown factors too.

Can Cellphones Cause Cancer?

In cellphone or mobile communication, the electro-magnetic radiation used has a typical frequency range of 800 MHz to 2100 MHz. Let us extend this to say 10,000 MHz or 10 GHz approximately.

UV radiation, the least powerful EM radiation which can cause cancer has a frequency range above 100,000 GHz. So, clearly the radiation used in cellphone communication can’t cause cancer!

Other Cellphone Related Health Issues

On the other hand, interference with brain activity is a major concern. The human brain is a network of neurons or nerve cells in which mostly sodium and potassium ions are arranged to form memories. Brain activity depends on memories and how they are linked to one another. Even the least powerful form of electro-magnetic radiation can cause some re-arrangement of these ions, thus interfering with brain activity. Whether this can have fatal or even significant effects on humans is unknown.

While the EM waves in mobile communication can’t cause cancer, the materials used in manufacturing cellphones might cause allergies due to repeated contact. If the device isn’t sterilized once in a while, bacteria and fungi might form colonies in some parts of the cellphone, thus leading to risk of infection.

Also, keep in mind that holding the cellphones in a particular manner which is unnatural for us might cause pain in the hands, neck and ears. Keeping the cellphone close to the ear and set to high volume may lead to lower sensitivity to sound.

Needless to say, talking on cellphones while driving, handling or moving near heavy or inflammable objects or navigating busy traffic on foot or bicycle may lead to major accidents. Cancer is therefore the least of your worries while using cellphones!

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Samir Saurav Majhi
I'm a Generalist Researcher working on a Theory of Reality, Horticulturist, Blogger, Natural Systems Analyst, Amateur Architect and all around curious guy with deep interest in Buddhist Philosophy, Yoga, Holistic Medicine, Natural Mathematics, Homoeopathy, Reiki and a firm belief in Competitive Cooperation for Sustainable Existence.
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