May 28th, 2008
12:09 PM ET

Cancer and cell phones

By Dr. Sanjay Gupta
Chief Medical Correspondent

Last night, I was part of a fascinating discussion on "Larry King Live" about cell phones and their health risks. (watch) To be clear, most of the established scientific community thinks there is no reason for concern. There were, however, some strong voices on each side of the issue, including neurosurgeon Vini Khurana from Australia. He is convinced, after looking at hundreds of studies, that not only do cell phones cause health problems such as brain tumors, but also they will eventually be considered a bigger health risk than asbestos and even cigarettes.


Now, I expected a staunch defense from the American Cancer Society, but instead I heard a more tepid response from Dr. Michael Thun. His bottom-line conclusion is that the studies that currently exist don't show any reason for concern – but – the studies aren't definitive in showing that they are safe either. Not exactly reassuring.

Over the last year, I have reviewed nearly a hundred studies on this topic, including the 19 large epidemiological studies. I urge you to do the same and read carefully to see what you think. Here is an example from a Swedish paper showing no increased risk of a brain tumor, known as acoustic neuroma. (see study) As you read the paper, you will find they defined a "regular" cell phone user as someone who uses a cell phone once per week during six months or more. I don't know about you, but everyone I know uses his or her cell phones much more frequently than that. So, just how reliable are some of these studies?

Furthermore, many of the studies published since 2000 followed patients only three years on average. And, even a Danish study that did have longer-term follow-up excluded anyone under the age of 18. So, what about children who will presumably be using these phones for the rest of their lives?

Mobile devices give off non-ionizing radiation radio frequency. This is different from the ionizing radiation of an X-ray, which everyone agrees can be harmful in large doses. The recommendation by the two neurosurgeons on the panel yesterday – Khurana and Dr. Keith Black, chairman of neurosurgery at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles – wear a wired ear piece. Even Bluetooth devices give off some radiation, although at lower doses. Don't carry your cell phone in your pocket; instead put it in a holster that meets industry standards.

What do you think? As Larry reminded us last night, it took a long time to develop a cause-and-effect relationship between cigarettes and lung cancer. Nowadays, everyone knows it exists. Is the same thing happening with cell phones? (more from Dr. Gupta on cell phones and cancer)

Editor's Note: Medical news is a popular but sensitive subject rooted in science. We receive many comments on this blog each day; not all are posted. Our hope is that much will be learned from the sharing of useful information and personal experiences based on the medical and health topics of the blog. We encourage you to focus your comments on those medical and health topics and we appreciate your input. Thank you for your participation.

soundoff (741 Responses)
  1. CK

    Hello Dr. Gupta:

    Whether RF radiation from cell phones is risky or not is still debatable, but we can establish a comparison of the strength of RF at various modes of usage. Suppose a cell phone placed next to ear (assume 1 inch distance from the source of radiation to the ear) has a RF intensity of 1, a cell phone 2 feet away will reduce RF by 1.7 million times. How about use a blue tooth type devise? Blue tooth device only reaches a distance like 10 feet, whereas a cell phone must reach like 10,000 feet to connect to a tower. Thus cubic of 1,000 is 1 billion; means the RF hazard, if any, from blue tooth devise is 1 billion times weaker than by placing a cell phone next to the ear. The head set is a different issue. Some claim that radiation can travel along the wire, a well known phenomena in physics. How much radiation will reach the ear if a headset user places the cell phone 2 feet away from his body is difficult to calculate; probably some one should have measured it already when one wants to start the discussion about the safety of cell phones. With best regard.

    July 24, 2008 at 15:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. CK

    Sorry, there is a correction in the above comment. RF drops in inverse square of distance, not cubic as I mistakenly calculated in the above comment. The correct number should be as follows: a cell phone 2 feet away reduces the intensity of RF by about 14,000 times, and blue tooth reduces RF by 1 million times. Of course even using a blue tooth the user is still exposed to the direct RF from the main cell phone in addition to the RF from the blue tooth device.

    July 24, 2008 at 15:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Ramona

    What about cell phone towers? Our preschool is across the road from two and I am concerned about the electromagentic radiation exposure to the 3-5 age group. Thanks.

    July 24, 2008 at 16:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. mk

    Basic high-school physics:

    Cellphones, like any other antennae, are point-sources emitting radiation in a 3-dimensional sphere. That means, like any other RF source that the intensity of the EMF field generated decreases with the square of the distance.

    It's like taking a magnet right next to a coin or standing a foot away. As soon as you get past a few milimeters there is no effect as the field is too weak.

    While the total Wattage of the RF antenna in a cell phone is ludicrously small compared to that of an actual cellphone tower, the fact that you're holding it right next to your head makes the Microwave field generated thousands of times stronger than if you were standing right at the base of a 100ft cell phone tower.

    The same thing applies to background radiation and all the EMF generated by all the cell phonetowers/emitters in the world. Add them all up and they still do not come close to the strength of the EMF field you get when you place your cellphone receiver (which is actually an emitter BTW) right next to your ear.

    July 24, 2008 at 16:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. SD

    I can't say that cell phones cause cancer, but they do obviously emit radiation. Along with cordless phones, flying in airplanes (LOTS of radiation exposure at those altitudes), and microwave ovens. The problem is that the radiation doesn't dissipate once we're exposed; the effects accummulate thus potentially causing disease. Especially if our immune systems are weakened at all. Anyone been stressed lately...? Radiation is all around us in different forms and has been for years, but we don't usually hold those forms up to our heads for hours every week. I consider my cell phone use to be light/moderate, but there are times that I'll talk long distance for an hour or so because those minutes are free. Some of the entries here are causing me to re-examine my habits; I will from now on use the speakerphone for everything except brief calls.

    July 24, 2008 at 17:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Sujata Bhatra

    Most people are right handed. If we are seeing an increase in right-side brain tumors, then cell phones are deadly. If not, they are not.

    July 26, 2008 at 00:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Michael

    If cell phone use is linked to cancer is there not a possibility of creating phones with lower electro magnetic radiation output? Cell phone use if linked to cancer will raise the number of brain tumors with in the next 30 years is there any possibility of reducing that number?

    July 29, 2008 at 22:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Sam Still

    I was watching your report on the dangers of cell phones. Isn't there an issue with modems and laptops? I use my laptop sitting on my lap a good part of the day, with the external modem/card maybe 6-7 inches from my testicles. In the report it was noted that your eyes and a man's testicles were more susceptible to cancer. Did I understand that clearly?

    July 31, 2008 at 15:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Bill Couzens

    Posted by Bill Couzens, Founder Lesscancer.org

    I like what Devra Davis had to say on the subject of cell phones and cancer check this out-


    Be careful with cell phones
    More research is needed to know if they're safe
    Tuesday, August 05, 2008
    By Devra L. Davis

    Dr. Devra L. Davis is the director of the Center for Environmental Oncology at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (preventingcancernow.org) and the author of "The Secret History of the War on Cancer."

    August 7, 2008 at 10:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Melinda

    Hi Dr. Gupta,

    I'm intrigued by the possible link between cell phones and cancer too, and just published an in-depth article on the topic in September issue of The Walrus magazine. Here's a link to those who are interested:



    August 13, 2008 at 13:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. darrell

    Recently, I had a growth removed from my parotid gland area(benign) but scary nonetheless. I first discovered it back in November;shortly after I saw the report in the news about a possible link to tumors on the brain and the parotid gland. Well that scared the living it out of me. First, I am a self-employed attorney who is also paralyzed in my right arm. This makes me left handed(all the time) by default. When I got my cell phone bill I realized that I was doing north of 5000 minutes per month;and this thing is on my left side. Not quite sure where to start I went to the Dentist who sent me to an oral surgeon who referred me to a Doctor of Otolarnygology. The latter confirmed that it was a growth and started with a biopsy. Next, there was an MRI and later my scheduled removal which occurred yesterday April 7, 2010. All went well so no need to stay overnight. Home sweet Home!

    April 8, 2010 at 07:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Welder work 

    wireless antennas that are not made of special alloys will easily break on gale force winds"';

    October 20, 2010 at 23:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. moreno valley water damage

    this page was what i've been looking pertaining to! I found this blog bookmarked with a friend of mine. ill also share it. thanks again!

    January 7, 2011 at 22:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. MekKayapletat

    Overview of US restaurants. El Taco Loco Restaurant

    January 21, 2011 at 09:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Pin Up Halloween Costumes

    Rrn between i in addition my hubby toy trucks possessed very a lot much more Ipods through unlike what Possible count, this sort of Sansas, iRivers, ipods on the market (basic & put your hands on), specific Ibiza Rhapsody, etcetera. Nonetheless ,, of late Legal herbal buds been feeling relaxed to just one brand of pros. Reason why? In view that I got willing to discover out how well-designed in addition activities to make ones underappreciated (and furthermore far and wide mocked) Zunes have become.

    September 10, 2011 at 09:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. kits

    Thanks for sharing superb informations. Your website is very cool. I'm impressed by the details that you have on this website. It reveals how nicely you perceive this subject. Bookmarked this website page, will come back for extra articles. You, my pal, ROCK! I found simply the info I already searched everywhere and just could not come across. What an ideal site.

    September 15, 2011 at 01:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. wireless outdoor security camera

    Wireless your personal style? If you are looking to evaluate or purchase virtually any wireless device whether it be a smart phone or tablet as well as other types of wireless accessories you have found the spot. We provide and compare all sorts of wireless product in the marketplace and provide you with where to purchase it for the greatest prices online. You will see nothing else over the internet such as this as we want you to obtain the most for the money and just what meets your requirements. So introducing the world of wireless whilst keeping those cables in the home.

    April 20, 2012 at 09:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Shawn Terron

    I loved as much as you will receive carried out right here. The sketch is attractive, your authored subject matter stylish. nonetheless, you command get got an edginess over that you wish be delivering the following. unwell unquestionably come further formerly again as exactly the same nearly a lot often inside case you shield this increase.

    June 22, 2012 at 14:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. unlimited no contract cell phone plans

    A cell phone is important for communication in the every movement of our life, but it causes various harmful effects in them. To prevent those harmful effects we need to follow some necessary steps while using them.

    January 11, 2013 at 05:07 | Report abuse | Reply
    • estunner

      I agree with you but the new digital world become so must to sleep with the phone on hand unfortunately

      January 18, 2017 at 06:16 | Report abuse |
  20. Rickie Kaner

    Donde Murcia insensibiliza Aquel platense vinatero. El Murcia Donde encandela alrededor de Aquel talismán fosco


    October 2, 2015 at 07:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Marla Shannonhouse

    If you usually are not covered by Social Security and therefore are at least 60 years, multiply your number of credited service by 2.Stop by my web page; military retirement calculator


    November 14, 2015 at 09:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Lynelle Meinel

    Spot on with this write-up, I truly believe that this web site needs far more attention. I’ll probably be returning to read through more, thanks for the info!


    November 14, 2015 at 10:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Ivan Labat

    Thanks for ones marvelous posting! I really enjoyed reading it, you are a great author. I will be sure to bookmark your blog and may come back in the future. I want to encourage continue your great work, have a nice day!|


    November 14, 2015 at 10:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Clay Goldy

    I love reading a post that will make men and women think. Also, thank you for allowing for me to comment!|


    November 14, 2015 at 11:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Monty Waner

    Thank you! I make so many different types of pancakes, but these by far, are my families favorite!


    November 16, 2015 at 22:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Drug Test Help

    This unique post is pretty interesting. I am going to definately be coming back to your website.


    December 10, 2015 at 14:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Saliva Test Detox

    This post is just what I consider a well thought out posting. Straightforward as well as the point. I am going to certainly keep a look out for more content like this.


    December 31, 2015 at 06:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. himani

    The sketch is attractive, your authored subject matter stylish.

    January 7, 2016 at 10:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. himani

    The sketch is attractive, your authored subject matter stylish.

    January 7, 2016 at 10:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Detox Fast

    There is no doubt that the following write-up is one of the best I have found today. It's also apparent the individual who's webpage this is put a whole lot of work in it. Great work!


    January 15, 2016 at 15:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. Quick Detox

    I almost didn't check this website out however I'm happy I did. It's actually pretty good in comparison to many others I've found. I will definately be back.


    January 15, 2016 at 15:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. Detox Soft Gel

    My spouse and I almost didn't check this webpage out but I'm just thankful I have. That it is very good when compared to numerous others I've found. I'm going definately be back.


    January 17, 2016 at 19:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Detox Soft Gel

    It is obvious that this post is one of the best I've found today. It's also obvious the person who's website this is put a whole lot of work in it. Good work!


    January 17, 2016 at 19:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. Mark

    With everything which seems to be building inside this particular subject matter, your perspectives tend to be somewhat exciting. Nonetheless, I appologize, but I do not give credence to your entire suggestion, all be it radical none the less. It would seem to everybody that your remarks are not completely validated and in actuality you are generally yourself not even totally certain of the assertion. In any case I did appreciate looking at it.


    February 24, 2016 at 06:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. Drug Test Detox

    No matter what the type of drug test conducted there are actually proven methods of passing any drug test that guarantee successful results in a short amount of time.


    March 25, 2016 at 17:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Drug Test Detox

    The following is extremely good subject material. One of the better blogposts I've come across today. Carry on the good work.


    April 11, 2016 at 19:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. australia detox

    Only if I can find more content like this one, that would be marvelous.


    April 14, 2016 at 14:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. unityspelltemple

    Hi. my ex bf just broke up with me 2 weeks ago. on the first week of breaking up, he send my friend a text asking me how am i doing. the my friend tried to convince him to change his mind about the breakup. the he said it's better this way. i know this is his logic mind talking. and during weekend i start to call him. crying, begging and pleading asking for another chance. he only rejected me. then 3 days after i text him again, asking for another chance ( i know i'm desperate) and he reject me again. so i said to him i won't bother you anymore. we've been together for a year and a half now, he said he want to breakup with me because i was too controlling. he wants his freedom. we're in a same course at college, and today i just knew that he changed his course 🙁 he even deleted me on social media) i was really upset and i needed help, so i searched for help online and I came across a website that suggested that Dr Unity can help solve marital problems, restore broken relationships and so on. So, I felt I should give him a try. I contacted him and he did a spell for me. Three days later, my bf came to me and apologized for the wrongs he did and promise never to do it again. Ever since then, everything has returned back to normal. I and my bf are living together happily again.. All thanks to Dr Unity . If you need a spell caster that can cast a spell that truly works, I suggest you contact him. He will not disappoint you. This is his E-mail: Unityspelltemple@gmail.com .

    April 15, 2016 at 06:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. beken.id

    Kuda Lumping Karangsambung – Kebumen #3

    August 11, 2016 at 09:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. zeeshan

    there is no doubt that Cancer and cell phones are totaly in touch with each other, if we use cellphone to much according to study its gives a bad impact on health and cause cancer. i have gone through few name meaning here https://www.askmyname.com/ and their definitions of baby names and finally came to know that a baby name meaning also impacts on his health and other stuff.

    January 16, 2017 at 07:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. polecany artykul

    You created some decent points there. I looked online with the problem and discovered most individuals should go together with with all your website.


    May 15, 2019 at 07:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. Shirlene Quiel

    Yet another thing I would like to convey is that in place of trying to suit all your online degree training on days and nights that you finish work (because most people are worn out when they return home), try to find most of your classes on the saturdays and sundays and only a couple courses in weekdays, even if it means taking some time off your saturdays. This is beneficial because on the saturdays and sundays, you will be extra rested and concentrated with school work. Thanks a bunch for the different recommendations I have realized from your web site.


    June 17, 2019 at 22:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. Shin Lucek

    Thanks for your post. I would love to remark that the first thing you will need to perform is verify if you really need fixing credit. To do that you will need to get your hands on a copy of your credit rating. That should never be difficult, considering that the government necessitates that you are allowed to acquire one cost-free copy of your actual credit report per year. You just have to inquire the right folks. You can either look into the website with the Federal Trade Commission as well as contact one of the major credit agencies immediately.


    June 30, 2019 at 00:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. Cuc Petralba



    October 18, 2019 at 06:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. 2movierulz

    I think that is one of the such a lot important info for me. And i am glad studying your article. But should remark on few basic issues, The web site taste is wonderful, the articles is actually great : D. Good process, cheers


    October 20, 2019 at 15:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. Modesto Schmier

    how to avoid white hairs


    November 1, 2019 at 16:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. Karine Teressa

    Soleil au jour de Saint Hilaire, rentre du bois pour ton hiver https://www.cialis20.fr Brooklyn, March 16, 1867.

    December 6, 2019 at 05:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. plumber visit this page

    My wife and i have been very satisfied that Raymond could do his inquiry through the ideas he had using your web site. It is now and again perplexing to just find yourself freely giving facts that many other folks could have been making money from. We really already know we need you to give thanks to for this. The entire explanations you have made, the straightforward web site menu, the relationships you make it easier to foster – it's many overwhelming, and it's assisting our son and us do think the content is enjoyable, and that is exceedingly pressing. Thank you for the whole lot!


    November 27, 2020 at 09:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. official site electrician

    Good post however , I was wondering if you could write a litte more on this topic? I'd be very thankful if you could elaborate a little bit more. Thanks!


    November 27, 2020 at 12:28 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15

Leave a Reply to Thomaslax


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.