Epidemiology studies investigating cell phone use patterns with human cancer risk have produced inconsistent results. Some studies enrolled people who already had tumors with suspected links to RF radiation, such as gliomas, acoustic neuromas and salivary gland tumors. Researchers compared the self-reported cell phone use habits of the cancer patients with those of other people who did not have the same diseases. Other studies enrolled people while they were still healthy, and then followed them over time to see if new cancer diagnoses tracked with how they used cell phones. All the epidemiology studies, however, have troubling limitations, including that enrolled subjects often do not report their cell phone use habits accurately on questionnaires.
Just as inevitably, worries about brain cancer spawned a market for products that supposedly protect cell phone users. For $62, you can order a Delta Shield, a thin polyester patch that contains a microchip that allegedly renders cell phones harmless. Users are instructed to place the patch on their cell phone battery. The similar BIOPRO Cell Chip, sold online for $35, attaches to the outside of the phone. The penny-size WaveShield 2000 Gold, selling for about $25, fits on the earpiece.
DefenderShield Cellphone Radiation Case also claims independent testing and says in their website: That a "sophisticated layering of separate non-toxic, human safe materials processed for maximum radiation blocking efficiency. Each material has unique and targeted radiation-shielding characteristics designed to work in unison to eliminate all radiation emissions from 0 to 10 GHZ and Defender Shield technology refracts, conducts and finally absorbs all these potentially harmful emissions." In this demonstration, the radiation level measured when DefendeShield case was on is still quite a bit above the level of exposure that I would recommend. I personally do not recommend-holding a phone with a shielding case to your head as the DefenderShield website shows a young woman doing as she demonstrates the product.
This 2009 meta-analysis, published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, looked at 23 case-control studies of the risk of both malignant and benign tumors from mobile phone use. When the authors included all 23, they found no increased risk of tumors. When they crunched certain subsets of the data — like looking only at studies that were blinded, or people who used cellphones for 10 or more years — they did find increases in tumor risks. Confusingly, when they divided up the analysis by tumor type, they found no increase in risk for glioma and acoustic neuroma, and a decrease in risk of meningioma.
The program began, but Dr. Carlo soon discovered that everyone involved had underlying motives.“The industry wanted an insurance policy and to have the government come out and say everything was fine. The FDA, which looked bad because it didn’t require pre-market testing, could be seen as taking steps to remedy that. By ordering the study, law makers appeared to be doing something. Everyone had a chance to wear a white hat.”
According to the FTC, there is no scientific proof that so-called shields significantly reduce exposure from electromagnetic emissions. Products that block only the earpiece – or another small portion of the phone – are totally ineffective because the entire phone emits electromagnetic waves. Such shields "may interfere with the phone's signal, cause it to draw even more power to communicate with the base station, and possibly emit more radiation." The FTC has enforced false advertising claims against companies that sell such products.
So, what types of RF are these cases intended to block? If they block the frequency being used by the phone than if the blocking is complete the phone won’t work. If it’s partial than, as noted by the FCC and related in the article, the phone may attempt to compensate for the weakened signal by increasing it’s signal strength, thereby emitting higher levels of radiation itself, and reducing battery life in the process.
Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) is an indicator for calculating the level of radiation absorbed in the body. This indicator represents the rate of energy absorption by the tissue and is expressed in units of Watt/kg. The Consumer Protection Regulations (information on non-ionizing radiation from mobile phones) of 2002, stipulate the duty to label the product, specifying the radiation level of the phone’s model and the maximum permitted radiation level. This regulation allows to compare the emitted radiation level between different instruments and to take this into consideration when weighing the factors determining the choice of a new instrument at the time of its purchase.
*SAR values are from tests conducted by Pong Research Corp on March 29, 2012 and submitted to the FCC on May 31, 2012. Because the SAR values were submitted to the FCC in graph form, EWG estimated numerical SAR values based on the chart available in WT Docket 11-186 (http://apps.fcc.gov/ecfs/document/view?id=7021921006). Pong’s filing to the FCC did not indicate whether SAR measurements were done at the head or in a body-worn configuration. In a personal communication, Pong informed EWG that the SAR measurements were done in a body-worn configuration, with the same distance from the test mannequin used by the phone manufacturer. Tests in the body-worn configuration were done at a 10 millimeter separation distance.
It’s easy to call any case a product designed to block smartphone radiation. What you need to look for is credible, quantifiable claims that highlight a case’s ability to reduce your exposure to the harmful radiation. Look for relevant certifications from credible organizations (such as FCC accredited laboratories) that will vouch for product claims, and read product reviews online.
Most of the research is attributed to "SPSU," which is presumably St. Petersburg State Polytechnic University, and some of the research, it is suggested, was conducted at the Kirov Military Medical Academy, though it's unclear why a military academy would conduct clinical research on civilian cell phone radiation. The names of the scientists who conducted these studies are conspicuously absent, as are any published results.
The recent study  about cell phones causing cancer in rats should be taken with a grain of salt when making the connection to humans . In particular, the rats in the study were exposed to radiation power densities of 0, 1.5, 3, or 6 W/kg (see p 7 in ref. 4 below). This would be equivalent of the 100 kg human getting up to 600 Watts — basically getting microwaved. As discussed earlier, cell phones are hundreds of times weaker.
SafeSleeve products are not tested by an FCC-approved lab. They have grossly mislead consumers. They only had tested one piece of material they claim is in their products. The consumer is given no proof that any of SafeSleeve products reduce any type of radiation. Do not bother testing their products with an RF meter because accurate testing requires a special lab that costs thousands of dollars. That’s why SafeSleeve has never had their products tested.
I can’t count how many times I’ve heard people speculate, joke, or jokingly speculate that their cellphone might be giving them cancer. It comes from a very reasonable place of discomfort — few people understand how radiation works, we put our phones right beside our brains all the time, and technology in general often feels like it ought to be causing some sort of societal ill.
Also noteworthy is that the studies evaluated radiation exposures in different ways. The NTP looked at “near-field” exposures, which approximate how people are dosed while using cell phones. Ramazzini researchers looked at “far-field” exposures, which approximate the wireless RF radiation that bombards us from sources all around us, including wireless devices such as tablet and laptop computers. Yet they generated comparable results: Male rats in both studies (but not mice or female animals) developed schwannomas of the heart at statistically higher rates than control animals that were not exposed.
There are fears that the electromagnetic radiation emitted from mobile phone handsets may harm health. In particular, there have been claims that it could affect the body’s cells, brain or immune system and increase the risk of developing a range of diseases from cancer to Alzheimer’s. Laboratory tests on mice have shown that radiation from mobile phones can have an adverse effect on their overall health. It is still not clear whether those findings can be applied directly to humans. A study by scientists in Finland, published in 2002, suggested that the electromagnetic radiation did affect human brain tissue. But they played down their findings saying more research was needed to see if the effects were the same in living people. Another study by scientists in Sweden, also published in 2002, claimed to have found a link between analogue mobile phones and brain tumours. It suggested users of “first generation” phones had a 30% higher risk of developing tumours than people who did not. However, the findings were controversial and there have been no similar studies into the effects of modern GSM phones. There have also been reports of people suffering from headaches, fatigue and loss of concentration after using their mobile phones. However, these claims have not been scientifically substantiated.
Finally, Brawley reminded me that cellphones kill humans in another way that we’re already certain about: because of inattention through distracted driving. In the US alone, there were 3,157 fatal crashes in 2016 that involved distracted driving, 14 percent of which included cellphone use, according to the latest data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. That’s not the focus of this piece, but perhaps state and federal regulators could follow places like Washington state, California, New York, and Nevada and heavily crack down on distracted driving with bans or stricter laws.
(Some common flaws in these studies: The summaries of the evidence weren’t comprehensive, the researchers often didn’t look at the quality of the studies they found, and they failed to do other simple things that would limit bias from creeping in. They also relied on case-control studies, a poor method to determine causality — more on that soon.) So we didn’t include these eight reviews in our analysis.
So, you've read the numerous studies about the potentially harmful health effects of cell phone radiation and you are ready to something about it. Of course, you can use your phone sparingly and put it in airplane mode when possible, use a wired headset or speakerphone when on calls, and never store it in your pocket. However, is that realistic? How about for your kids? In today's world, with our increasing dependence on our cell phones, probably not!
A decline in male sperm quality has been observed over several decades. Studies on the impact of mobile radiation on male fertility are conflicting, and the effects of the radiofrequency electromagnetic radiation (RF-EMR) emitted by these devices on the reproductive systems are currently under active debate. A 2012 review concluded that "together, the results of these studies have shown that RF-EMR decreases sperm count and motility and increases oxidative stress". A 2017 study of 153 men that attended an academic fertility clinic in Boston, Massachusetts found that self-reported mobile phone use was not related to semen quality, and that carrying a mobile phone in the pants pocket was not related to semen quality.
The cell phone industry is fully aware of the dangers. In fact, enough scientific evidence exists that some companies’ service contracts prohibit suing the cell phone manufacturer or service provider, or joining a class action lawsuit. Still, the public is largely ignorant of the dangers, while the media regularly trumpets new studies showing cell phones are completely safe to use. Yet, Dr. Carlo points out, “None of those studies can prove safety, no matter how well they’re conducted or who’s conducting them.” What’s going on here? While the answer in itself is simplistic, how we got to this point is complex.
Independently tested DefenderShield technology uses a patent-pending sophisticated layering of separate non-toxic, human safe materials processed for maximum radiation blocking efficiency. Each material has unique and targeted radiation shielding characteristics designed to work in unison to up to eliminate all radiation emissions from 0 to 10 GHz.
He believes the FDA should put out guidance based on the results of the rat studies. “I would think it would be irresponsible to not put out indications to the public,” Melnick says. “Maintain a distance from this device from your children. Don’t sleep with your phone near your head. Use wired headsets. This would be something that the agencies could do right now.”
Anti-radiation or radiation blocking or phone shield cases. Do they Work? SafeSleeve, DefenderShield, Vest, Alara, Pong, Reach and ShieldMe and other EMF protection phone cases claim to block the radiation from your cellphone or smartphone. Anti-radiation cellphone case brands make enticing claims like this: ". . .eliminate up to 99% of the harmful radiation coming from the phone!"
That’s why the International EMF Scientist Appeal and a number of health and safety organizations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Environmental Health Trust, have called on the government to reassess the safe levels of exposure to cellphones and other wireless technology and then develop new consumer safety guidelines based on those assessments, Moskowitz said.
But he cautioned that the exposure levels and durations were far greater than what people typically encounter, and thus cannot “be compared directly to the exposure that humans experience.” Moreover, the rat study examined the effects of a radio frequency associated with an early generation of cellphone technology, one that fell out of routine use years ago. Any concerns arising from the study thus would seem to apply mainly to early adopters who used those bygone devices, not to users of current models.
Parents and consumer advocacy groups occasionally capture attention for voicing concerns about cellphones and other types of non-ionizing radio-frequency radiation exposure, such as the energy emitted from wifi routers in schools. In some cases, they have exaggerated what we know about the risks to kids, and rarely note that cellphones are also just one of many radiation sources we all live with. (Even the Earth itself, the air we breathe, and the sun and stars in our galaxy constantly give off radiation.)
It’s also possible that longer-term studies and cancer incidence tracking will find larger cancer effects in another five or 10 years — or that how we use cellphones is evolving such that the devices may cause cancer in ways these studies didn’t account for. (These days, many people text instead of talking, and hold their cellphones in their pockets but not on their heads and necks.) That’s why some people look to animal studies to supplement our understanding of the potential biological effects of cellphones.
To find out about the state of research on the link between phones and cancer, we spoke with Jonathan Samet, dean of the Colorado School of Public Health and an expert in phone radiation who led a World Health Organization working group on the subject. In 2011, the WHO group deemed phone radiation “possibly carcinogenic,” which is less certain than other classifications, but isn’t an outright “no” either. Six years later, Samet said the evidence in either direction is still mixed and that for the time being, there remains “some indication” of risk.
I don't know why, but I recently had a concern about the fact I keep my smartphone in my pocket for a good part of the day. Was this a "smart" idea, or was there a potential problem with phone radiation? To address this concern, I searched for answers on the Internet. There were a lot of contraptions, many of which seemed to be too good to be true. The one that looked the most promising was Blocsock, not cheap at $24 for the high-end model with the pouch, but it did say it blocked 96% of the cell phone radiation from your body by having special radiation-blocking material on one side, with the side facing away from your body regular material so the phone could still communicate with the outside world. Cheap eBay knockoffs had material on both sides, meaning when you put your phone in them, your phone could't communicate with the outside world! Others did not have the testing results that assured how well the blocking material worked. There is a very detailed SAR test report validating the Blocsock, which I found at sustainablemobile.com. You can Google it. It is a very exhaustive testing report!
“One thing all these conditions have in common is a disruption, to varying degrees, of intercellular communication. When we were growing up, TV antennas were on top of our houses and such waves were up in the sky. Cell phones and Wi-Fi have brought those things down to the street, integrated them into the environment, and that’s absolutely new. The recognition mechanism, where protein vibration sensors on the cell membrane pick up a signal and interpret it as an invader, only works because the body recognizes something it’s never seen before.”
There was also “equivocal” evidence that it raised the risk of heart conditions, and led to evidence of DNA damage. Baby rats born to mothers during the trial had lower birth weights. The scientists also found a statistically significant increase in lymphoma (cancer of the lymph nodes) among female mice and heightened rates of liver cancer in the male mice. All those findings were labeled “equivocal.”
Who wants to make his own shielded passport or credit card sleeve? Or line a purse, wallet, cellphone case or backpack? Add a shielding liner to a pocket? Wrap a wifi node to block radiation output? Repair a fencing lame? Shield a part of a circuit board? Make an RF gasket? Shield your homeopathy bottles? Attach a ground cord to a fabric? There are hundreds of uses for this versatile shielding patch. A peel-off paper backing reveals a super strong conductive adhesive that keeps the patch where you put it. Easily cut to any shape with ordinary scissors, this metalized fabric is conductive on both sides, completely flexible with no stretch, and solid black in color. 40-50 dB from 10 MHz to 10 GHz. You get two pieces, each 5.5x8 inches. Not intended to adhere directly to skin. Do not machine wash.
The guidelines created a measure of the rate that body tissue absorbs radiation during cell phone use called the specific absorption rate (SAR). The SAR for cell phone radiation was set at a maximum of 1.6 watts of energy absorbed per kilogram of body weight. The limit was set due to the thermal effects of cell phone radiation (all RF radiation can heat human body tissue at high enough levels) - it was not set to mitigate other biological effects cell phone radiation might have such as DNA damage or cancer.
The researchers found other strange effects that muddied the interpretation of the studies: The rats exposed to cellphones seemed to outlive the rats in the control group, for example. There was no clear linear relationship between higher levels of cellphone exposure and more cancer at some tissue sites, and the cancer rate in the control group was lower than it should have been at other tissue sites.
SafeSleeve's report is right up front about showing that they do not test or certify the Safe Sleeve case, rather they are simply testing the material they put into the case in a completely artificial environment, in a laboratory setting, using a signal generator and a power amplifier. Safe Sleeve includes photos showing how the measurements are taken. But that may not be how anyone will ever use their phone.
Participation bias, which can happen when people who are diagnosed with brain tumors are more likely than healthy people (known as controls) to enroll in a research study. Also, controls who did not or rarely used cell phones were less likely to participate in the Interphone study than controls who used cell phones regularly. For example, the Interphone study reported participation rates of 78% for meningioma patients (range among the individual studies 56–92%), 64% for glioma patients (range 36–92%), and 53% for control subjects (range 42–74%) (6).