Is your cell phone making your brain sick?


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You may have heard or read somewhere that cell phones cause brain cancer. So why are we still so attached to our phones? It is a fact that cell phones emit radio frequency waves, which have been classified by the National Cancer Institute as a possible human carcinogen. However, in order to cause tumors and cancer damage must be done to DNA and studies have found no evidence that radio frequency waves cause damage to DNA. Many studies have been done on this topic and the results have been inconclusive. Major organizations such as the American Caner Society, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the U.S. Food and Drug administration to name a few have all come to the same conclusion: while suspicions have been raised about the safety of cell phone use there is not enough evidence to prove a direct link between cell phone use and cancer.

There are currently a few long-term studies being done on the effects of cell phone use on brain cancer. One of these studies, known as Cosmos, has enrolled one quarter of a million people 18 and older and will follow them and their cell phone use and brain tumor/cancer development for 20 to 30 years.

The answer to the question above is that we do not know if our cell phones are killing our brains. The reason for this is most likely that cell phones do not cause immediate damage but may do damage over a 20 to 30 year period. Since these devices are relatively new to the whole of society it is till too soon to tell.

So, are cell phones one of the big scientific mysteries of the 21st century as cigarettes were to the 20th? We most likely won't know for several more decades when the true effects of regular cell phone use over an extended period of time become clearer. 

4 Comments

I find this very interesting, as it shows how there are so many things we don't know.

It also relates to how we were not aware that smoking causes cancer, yet people still smoke.

If we do find out that cell phones cause brain tumors or other types of cancer, will people stop using them all together? Or will some stop, but some continue?

Could there be a secondhand affect, like secondhand smoking?

I always get nervous about this because I sleep with my cell phone under my pillow since I use it as an alarm. I worry that it somehow will cause damage to my brain! I feel like a lot of kids don't even talk on the phone that much... We all mainly just text all day. This is probably a lot less harmful. I hope they come to a conclusion soon though so that if it's dangerous people will know. I always think about things like this... What are we doing now that we don't know is dangerous (like smokers in the 20th century).

I think this is so interesting, and it's something that I always get worried about when I'm on the phone for a long time. It makes me wonder what would happen if scientists definitively proved that cell phones cause cancer--would we give up phones? How would everyone communicate? I also liked that you connected to this to the studies on cigarette smoking during the 20th century; maybe like cigarettes, cell phones also take 20+ years to show damage to the brain. Especially since cell phones are a more recent development, it seems like this is a study that may need to wait longer to find more definitive results!

I think this topic greatly relates to what we were talking about in class this past week: smoking. We looked at smoking through the century- and how knowledge about smoking progressed over this time due to research and development. Like previous comments have stated, however, people have not stopped smoking. If this is true (I personally don't think it is) I think this ties into the technology addiction and obsession in our society, and that people will probably still use their cellphones. Perhaps companies would design new phones with different or lower frequencies to prevent or help the cause. This link directs you a lot of useful information about the studies and possibility of cell phones playing a role in the cause of cancer.

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