They determined there is “clear evidence” that male rats exposed to high levels of radio frequency radiation — typical of 2G and 3G networks when the study was designed — developed heart schwannomas. There was also “some evidence” of brain and adrenal gland tumors, again in the male rats, but the exposed female rats, and male and female mice, did not have consistent patterns of disease.
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.
Phone radiation isn’t like the radiation from, say, a nuclear meltdown. That’s what’s known as “ionizing” radiation — it’s high energy and capable of damaging your DNA, which researchers have determined leads to cancer. Phones emit a much lower energy radiation (lower even than visible light) that’s considered to be “non-ionizing.” We know non-ionizing radiation doesn’t damage DNA the way that ionizing radiation does. But the question remains whether it could still react with the body in some other way that might lead to problems from longterm exposure.
One of the most robust animal studies in the world comes from the US government. In 1999, during the Clinton administration, the Food and Drug Administration asked the National Toxicology Program (NTP) to study the toxicity and cancer-causing capability of cellphone radio-frequency radiation. At the time, health officials felt epidemiological studies in humans wouldn’t answer these questions, so the NTP embarked on studies in rats and mice.
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.
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.
Exposure to ionizing radiation, such as from x-rays, is known to increase the risk of cancer. However, although many studies have examined the potential health effects of non-ionizing radiation from radar, microwave ovens, cell phones, and other sources, there is currently no consistent evidence that non-ionizing radiation increases cancer risk in humans (2).