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Sunday, October 23, 2011

Good news for mobile phone users—no sign of cancer

A large Danish study finds no increased cancer rates even among people with frequent and long-term mobile phone use.  This isn’t surprising, considering that there is no known mechanism for how the electromagnetic radiation given off by mobile phones could affect either DNA or cells.  Still, it’s good to hear.

The researchers, led by Patrizia Frei of the Danish Cancer Society conducted the largest study of mobile phone users to date.  Thanks to the Danish system of registering all residents, the entire Danish population could be divided into those that do or do not have mobile phone subscriptions.  Starting in 1987, the year mobile handsets arrived in Denmark, phone usage was mapped with socioeconomic status and cancer rates for over 350,000 people.

So what were the results?  Rates of central nervous system cancers (glioma, meningioma) did not increase with increased mobile phone usage. In fact, some types of cancer actually decreased, though the authors suggest that this may have been due to lower rates of smoking amongst early adopters of mobile phones.

As I mentioned, this is not at all surprising.  A mobile phone puts out less than two watts of non-ionizing radiation.  In comparison, your typical microwave requires at least 500 watts to cook your food.  And even if mobile phones did put out a significant amount of radiation, which they don’t, non-ionizing radiation is not known to cause genetic mutations of any kind.  At best, it increases temperature.  How the meager radiation coming from a cell phone could heat one’s brain on the far side of one’s skull enough to affect brain cells has never been explained.  Probably because it can’t and doesn’t.

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