The results of a new Australian study have proved that there is no link between cancer and cell phone usage. The researchers gathered over three decades worth of patient data between the years of 1982 and 2013 and mapped brain cancer rates with cell phone usage. The study, that was published in Cancer Epidemiology, examined 19,858 men and 14,222 women diagnosed with brain cancer in Australia.
Mobile phones were first used in 1987 in Australia, since then mobile phone usage has risen to 90%. Despite this massive increase in cell phone use, cancer rates have barely increased in men and remained stable in women. There was a significant increase in cancer rates in those aged 70 to 84, but it was before the advent of mobile phones, back in 1982. The researchers think that this rise may be due to better cancer detecting tools and better diagnostic techniques over the years. In Australia all diagnosed cases of cancer have to be legally registered, so the study is very accurate and the data gathered is consistent.
Lead researcher, Professor Simon Chapman of the University of Sydney was confident in his study. He said in The Conversation that the time period of the research was extensive so there weren’t any flaws left in the study. The study took into account the lag period. Lag period refers to the time for exposure caused by potential cancer causing agent to spread in the body and show signs. However, Davis has argued, that we may see a sudden rise many years later, as in the case of lung cancer and smoking we see gradual rise moving towards peak incidence which may take 30 to 40 years. He said phones emit non ionizing radiation which does not damage DNA, so he has no doubts on his study’s results.
So Why Do Some People Believe Cell Phones Cause Cancer?
Some kind of radiation can cause cancer by damaging DNA but not the kind emitted by cell phones. Mobile phones communicate using radio frequency which is on the lower spectrum of the electromagnetic wave spectrum; gamma rays and X rays are on the high end. When a wave has high frequency, it has high energy. When the energy is high enough, it can transfer energy to an atom and make it lose its electron. When an atom loses its electron, it is called ionization which can break chemical bonds in cells and damage DNA, hence causing cancer.
On the other hand, when electromagnetic waves have low frequency, they do not have enough energy to break chemical bonds and therefore is non-ionizing radiation. Radio waves are an example of non-ionizing radiation and gamma rays and X rays are examples of ionizing radiation. That is why gamma rays and X rays may cause cancer but radio waves do not. It doesn’t matter how strong the radiation is, only the frequency is what matters, since that is what differentiates non-ionizing radiation from ionizing radiation.
Due to the fact that cell phones emit radiation people started assuming that the emitted cell phone radiation may be harmful but as it’s clearly been explained many times over the years not all radiation is harmful.
Some Studies Do Believe That Cell Phone Cause Cancer
There’s no conclusive link between cell phones and cancer. However, many scientists and health officials do take the potential health risks of cell phones very seriously and want to further explore the link between cancer and mobile phones. One study of a million women in UK found a link between the acoustic neuroma, a benign tumor in the nerve that leads from the ear to brain, and higher use of cell phones. The researchers suggested that more frequent use of cell phones increases the risk of developing the tumor. The study followed the women for seven years expecting more number of subjects to develop this tumor due to increased exposure to radiation over the years. However, the numbers didn’t increase thus proving there isn’t a link between cell phone usage and cancer as thought earlier. The authors concluded that it was a statistical coincidence.
Another study conducted by the World Health Organization found an increase in Glioma in the top 10% most frequent cell phone users. Glioma is a type of nerve cell tumor that is responsible for most cases of malignant brain cancer. However, the study was flawed. The researchers gathered the data by having the group report their own cell phone usage and there is a high chance that people might not correctly remember their exact cell phone usage. So the study was prone to misreports. The results showed that people who had used their mobile phones had a lower risk of Glioma than those who didn’t use mobile phones at all.
Other studies have found no evidence that cell phones cause cancer. Over five billion people use cell phones and if cell phone did indeed cause cancer, we should have seen massive reported cases of cancer, since the time they were first introduced back in the 1980s. So go ahead, make that call you so desperately wanted to but were scared to do so.