An analysis of data from NCI's Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Program evaluated trends in cancer incidence in the United States. This analysis found no increase in the incidence of brain or other central nervous system cancers between 1992 and 2006, despite the dramatic increase in cell phone use in this country during that time (22).
For decades, health experts have struggled to determine whether or not cellphones can cause cancer. On Thursday, a federal agency released the final results of what experts call the world’s largest and most costly experiment to look into the question. The study originated in the Clinton administration, cost $30 million and involved some 3,000 rodents.
The Ministry of Health Medical Administration circular (from 2002) addressed to hospital Directors, states that use of mobile phones and wireless handheld transceivers (walkie talkie) in the hospital, must on the one hand guarantee the patient’s wellbeing and safety, and on the other hand, allow the staff, the patients and their families to enjoy the service benefits. This circular outlines the areas where use of mobile phones is strictly forbidden and areas where use is permitted (while keeping an appropriate safety distance from areas where life-supporting equipment or systems are operated).
In conclusion: It is still unclear whether use of cellular technology is associated with an increased risk to develop malignant and benign tumors, but taking into account the results of recent studies, the Ministry of Health adopts the precautionary principle and follows the recommendations listed in the “Ministry of Health Recommendations” (below).
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.
An analysis of data from all 13 countries participating in the Interphone study reported a statistically significant association between intracranial distribution of tumors within the brain and self-reported location of the phone (7). However, the authors of this study noted that it is not possible to draw firm conclusions about cause and effect based on their findings.
Mobile devices work by sending radio waves in the air. And while the National Cancer Institute has pointed out that the radio-frequency (RF) energy cell phone emits is low, it does not discount the possible long term health risks it poses. Some of the most recent smartphones (such as the iPhone 7 in particular), release a higher level of radiation than older cellphones; and with people spending more and more time on their devices, it’s only a matter of time before adverse effects might catch up.
Most of these early studies did not find an increase in the risk for developing tumors among mobile phone users. The main problem characterizing these studies stems from the fact that the development of cancer (in particular brain tumors) takes a very long time (at least 10-20 years and up to 40 years or more), while mobile phone technology is relatively new (as aforesaid, popular use began only in the mid-90s). Hence, these studies could not demonstrate risk even if such existed.
In theory, men may be more vulnerable to cellphone radiation’s effects on fertility than women. Sperm cells are made and stored in testicles, whereas egg cells are stored in ovaries. And the location of these two organs means that sperm and eggs have different levels of protection from radiation. Testicles sit outside of the abdomen, which makes them more sensitive to radiation. And, well, a phone often sits in your front pocket.
Use the speaker mode on the phone or a hands-free device such as a corded or cordless earpiece. This moves the antenna away from your head, which decreases the amount of RF waves that reach the head. Corded earpieces emit virtually no RF waves (although the phone itself still emits small amounts of RF waves that can reach parts of the body if close enough, such as on the waist or in a pocket). Bluetooth® earpieces have an SAR value of around 0.001 watts/kg (less than one thousandth the SAR limit for cell phones as set by the FDA and FCC).
These expert committees determined that there are indeed gaps in the knowledge concerning the implications of exposure to this radiation, and therefore they called for further studies on the subjects and recommended to adopt the “precautionary principle". This principle adopts simple and relatively cheap means to reduce exposure to the minimum radiation levels possible with existing technology.
People can also reduce their exposure by limiting cell-phone use when the cellular signal is weak; when traveling in a high-speed car, bus or train; to stream audio or video; or to download or upload large files. All of these circumstances cause phones to put out higher-than-normal levels of RF energy. Phones also emit RF energy when connected to WiFi or Bluetooth devices, but at lower levels.
That’s because of a new anti-radiation phone case from SafeSleeve, a small company that started making anti-radiation laptop cases roughly three years ago. "I was using my laptop computer on my lap, and a friend of mine told me I shouldn’t,” says company co-founder Cary Subel. “His dad was a urologist, who had told him that the effects of the radiation and heat can affect your fertility and potentially cause all sorts of other issues. So it was in the back of my mind. When I went to college, I was always using my laptop on my lap more and more, but I was hesitant. I figured there was something out there to block the radiation and heat. But I looked it up and there wasn’t much.” He says he developed a case for the laptop that did the job. From there, the cell phone cases became a natural progression, and through a 2014 Kickstarter campaign became reality.
None of the three cases contain metallic parts, which are known to affect SAR, but all increased the user’s radiation exposure. The effect on radiation exposure would likely vary with each of the hundreds of cases on the market, and each would have to be tested individually to come up with an exact measure. The results in Table 1, however, are believed to reflect the range of radiation increases.
Since 2001, the FCC has allowed manufacturers to test phones at a distance of up to one inch from the body to account for the use of a holster. In a 2012 report, however, the Government Accountability Office, the Congressional watchdog agency, noted that many cell phone owners actually keep and use their phones right next to the body, so these outdated testing policies could result in radiofrequency (RF) radiation exposure greater than the FCC’s legal limit (GAO 2012). The GAO report concluded:
RF waves from cell phones have also been shown to produce “stress” proteins in human cells, according to research from Martin Blank, Ph.D., a special lecturer in the department of physiology and cellular biophysics at Columbia University and another signer of the recent letter to the WHO and U.N. “These proteins are used for protection,” Blank says. “The cell is saying that RF is bad for me and it has to do something about it.”
California officials issued the new report in response to increasing smartphone use in the United States, especially among children. About 95% of Americans own a cell phone, according to a press release from the California Department of Public Health, and the average age for a first cell phone is now 10 years old. About 12% of people use their smartphones for daily Internet access.
The peer reviewers did have some quibbles with the study; some wished it could have lasted longer (the rodents were exposed to radiation for two years) to catch later-developing tumors, for example, but others on the panel noted that the longer a rodent lives, the more likely it is to develop tumors regardless of radiation, making it harder to find the signal in the noise. Others wanted the researchers to have dissected the rodent brains more than they did, to seek hard-to-find tumors. But they noted that science is an iterative process; the study wasn’t perfect, but it’s better than anything that’s been done so far.
But the pair of studies by the US National Toxicology Program found “clear evidence” that exposure to radiation caused heart tumors in male rats, and found “some evidence” that it caused tumors in the brains of male rats. (Both are positive results; the NTP uses the labels “clear evidence,” “some evidence,” “equivocal evidence” and “no evidence” when making conclusions.)
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What the study showed: Self-reported cell phone use was not associated with an increased risk of glioma, meningioma, or non-central nervous system tumors. Although the original published findings reported an association with an increased risk of acoustic neuroma (14), this association disappeared after additional years of follow-up of the cohort (15).