May 20th, 2011
08:00 AM ET

Gupta: Cell phones, brain tumors and a wired earpiece

Learn more about cell phones and the current research into whether they could cause brain tumors, “Sanjay Gupta, M.D.,” Saturday, 7:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. ET and Sunday at 7:30 a.m. ET.

By Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Chief Medical Correspondent

Just about every time I use a cell phone, I plug in my wired earpiece first. Having discussed the use of earpieces on several news shows, people expect to see me using one. If I am walking around the CNN studios, my colleagues often comment on it. In airports, people will stop me in the rare cases I forget to use the earpiece, and remind me about it. Perhaps, they are intrigued because I am a neurosurgeon who openly shows some concern about cell phones.

Truth is, it is a pretty easy thing to do – using an earpiece. Furthermore, my neck doesn’t hurt after being on the phone for a long conference call, and given that many of those calls take place in a car, an earpiece becomes a requirement. Still, though, I don’t want to dodge the obvious question: Do cell phones cause brain cancer?

It may be too early to say for sure. The latency period or time between exposure and recognition of a tumor is around 20 years, sometimes longer. And, cell phone use in the U.S. has been popular for only  around 15 years. Back in 1996, there were 34 million cell phone users. Today there are 9-10 times as many. Keeping that in mind, it is worth taking a more detailed look at the results of Interphone, a multinational study designed to try to  answer this question.

The headline from this study was there was little or no evidence to show an association between cell phones and cancer. Though, if you went to the appendix of the study, which interestingly was available only online, you found something unsettling. The data showed people who used a cell phone 10 years or more doubled the risk of developing a glioma, a type of brain tumor. And, across the board – most of the studies that have shown an increased risk are from Scandinavia, a place where cell phones have been popular since the early 1990s. For these reasons, the whole issue of latency could become increasingly important.

Cell phones use non-ionizing radiation, which is very different from the ionizing radiation of X-rays, which everyone agrees are harmful. Non-ionizing radiation won’t strip electrons or bust up DNA. It's more like very low power microwaves. Short term, these microwaves are likely harmless, but long term could be a different story. Anyway, who likes the idea of a microwave, even a low-powered one, next to their head all day?

And, what about kids? I have three of them, aged 5, 4 and 2. Fact is, they are more likely to lead to my early demise than cell phones. But, as hard as it is to believe sometimes, they actually have thinner skulls than adults, and will probably be using cell phones longer than I ever will.

The first person to encourage me to regularly wear an ear piece was Dr. Keith Black. He also is a neurosurgeon, and makes a living removing – you guessed it – brain tumors. Keith has long believed there is a link, and for some time, his was a lonely voice in this discussion. Nowadays, he has loud and prominent voices accompanying him. Ronald Herberman, director of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute,  sent a memo warning staffers to limit their cell phone use. One of the possible consequences, he says, is  an increased risk of brain cancer. The city of San Francisco is trying to pass an ordinance requiring radiation warning labels on all cell phones.  The European Environmental Agency has said cell phones could be as big a public health risk as smoking, asbestos and leaded gasoline. Even the makers of cell phones suggest you don’t place a device against your head, but rather advocate holding it 5/8 to a full inch away.

Many will roll their eyes at this, scoffing at the precautionary principle on display here. Fair enough. Still, I like my wired earpiece, and I don’t have to turn my life upside down to use it. I also text and email a lot more, because my kids rarely allow me to have a phone conversation. Speaking of kids, you will probably see mine using earpieces too, when my wife and I decide they are old enough to use one, which isn’t in the foreseeable future.

With reporting from CNN's Danielle Dellorto

soundoff (1,162 Responses)
  1. Vern

    My teenage daughter wears her phone in the front pocket of her too tight jeans. Have any studies been done to show if there is any damage to internal organs from wearing a cell phone right up against the skin?

    May 20, 2011 at 08:23 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Violet

      Just a comment - our financial advisor, a man in his late 30's, developed a skin cancer lesion on his upper right thigh - directly underneath where he kept his cell phone in his pocket. He did not have skin cancer anywhere else on his body. Needless to say, he no longer keeps his cell phone in his pocket, and limits his use in general.

      May 20, 2011 at 09:18 | Report abuse |
    • DocZ

      Violet thats what they use 1000's of people in studies. you cant rule out coincidence and other factors with one subject

      May 20, 2011 at 09:30 | Report abuse |
    • Jen

      Vern, I wouldn't recommend it. And no, I'm not a doctor, and no, there aren't reams of irrefutable evidence to back up my opinion. It is simply instinct and using my own observations and intelligence. I don't like to put laptops directly on my lap. I am a very aware person and I can actually FEEL that it is bad for me. Actually, boys who play video games with the controller near their laps are more likely to develop prostate cancer, according to a recent study. She will most likely be fine, but I don't believe putting an EMF/radiation producing device directly on your body (in her case, near her groin lymph nodes) can be beneficial. (I also don't believe in using microwaves or sleeping near electronic devices).

      May 20, 2011 at 11:26 | Report abuse |
    • charles s

      Has any studies been done to determine the amount of radiation that a person receives from a cell phone? It should be fairly easy to measure this radiation. Measure the signal when the cell phone is placed besides someone's head. Take a measurement about one foot from the cell phone; one measurement through air and the other measurement on the opposite side of the head. The difference in readings would be the amount of radiation that the a person's head has absorbed from the signal. I have read that most cell phones have about two watts of transmission power. My guess is that a person's head is absorbing maybe 1% or about 2 milliwatts of energy. Obviously this simple experiment will not answer the question about how the brain is absorbing this energy. It could be that the signal is being focused on a particular spot in the brain and that tiny spot would be absorbing a much greater energy than the other tissue.

      The actual absorption of radiation in the brain by particular regions would require a much more detailed procedure. Some researcher could probably do a PhD thesis on this question.

      May 20, 2011 at 11:43 | Report abuse |
    • Don

      Jen, where did you find the study about video game controllers and prostate cancer? Did it mention if they were testing certain consoles (like X-box, Playstation, etc) or just "controllers" in general?

      May 20, 2011 at 11:49 | Report abuse |
    • flippin

      I can't tell you where I read this becuase it was well over a year ago, but I did read somewhere that it is best to leave a phone in a purse, do not have it against skin in clothing. Also, do not sleep with it right next to you, put it in anothe room if possible. If you need it in the same room for an alarm, lay it with the antenna end facing away from you and the phone face down and again, not on a night stand right next to you.. (Double check these qoutes before taking my word, it was a while ago). I know it seems far fetched, but it is a fact that no one really knows the effects cell phone use will have on all of us in the future. Now that just about evryone and their Mother (and kids) has one, seems like that's a lot of radiation going on.

      May 20, 2011 at 12:34 | Report abuse |
  2. Mark

    As somebody who had a brain tumor removed, I always use a wired headpiece when using my cell phone now. I've been following these types of studies for a few years now and it seems most people just ignore them or are unaware of the possible link.

    May 20, 2011 at 08:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Steve

    How does wearing a bluetooth headset vs a wired headset compare?

    May 20, 2011 at 08:57 | Report abuse | Reply
    • crcroce

      Bluetooth is the same as having your cell phone up against your head. Either wear a wired set or don't bother. And not all cell phones are created equal. Some have twice as much as others.

      May 20, 2011 at 11:36 | Report abuse |
    • crcroce

      twice as much radiation, that is.

      May 20, 2011 at 11:37 | Report abuse |
    • rony

      the most powerful bluetooth devices (100mW) are considered to be on par with a cell phone's radiation (so using one as an earpiece wouldn't be better than just talking on the phone), but devices with ~5 and ~10 meter range are 50-100 times less powerful and are not considered harmful.

      May 20, 2011 at 11:40 | Report abuse |
    • wzrd1

      Figure 0.75 to 1 watt of radiated power from a cell phone. Bluetooth uses literally the same frequency band as a microwave oven, BUT, bluetooth emits around 1 milliwatt, a LOT less power than that phone OR microwave oven.
      In short, while I'm not real comfortable with microwaving my brain with the high frequency microwaves and UHF from a cell phone, I'm comfortable with a bluetooth earpiece.

      May 20, 2011 at 14:29 | Report abuse |
    • Fiona

      All of the bluetooth-wearing people I've had the displeasure to deal with or encounter deserve a good brain tumor, in my opinion. Walking around talking loudly to no one (apparently) not only makes you look like a cyborg idiot, it's rude for all of those around you (they should be banned in airport boarding areas). Interrupting a conversation with someone in front of you to take a call on that thing in your ear is beyond rude.

      May 20, 2011 at 16:41 | Report abuse |
  4. Mark

    Steve – I wondered the same thing too a few years ago and figured a wired headset must be better that beaming a wave of energy up to your bluetooth headset. Who knows, but using a $20 wired headset beats a brain tumor any day so why risk it?

    May 20, 2011 at 09:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. pat

    there is no differance between drugs and cell phones,people get hooked.they need there fix try live your life without it see what happens

    May 20, 2011 at 09:06 | Report abuse | Reply
    • flippin

      When I was a kid, you were lucky if you happened to have one of those really long coiled chords for your house phone so you could talk with friends in the privacy of your room or some other hiding spot. I try to remember just 7 yrs ago when I didn't feel the need for one. I try to remember being so out of touch with everyone, it's impossible. I have anxiety when I leave my phone at home because if there was an emergency, how could I receive/make a call? Well, how the heck survive in the jungle before??? I am tempted to just go back to the basics. But now all the pay phones are gone so if you're ever stranded, you are REALLY stranded.

      May 20, 2011 at 12:44 | Report abuse |
    • wzrd1

      More often than not, I don't carry my cell phone. BUT, if I have a car accident or the car breaks down, I'm kind of SOL without one. THEN, I have to find a pay phone, find change or use a credit card and pay millions of dollars in a phone call (OK, not really millions, but it DOES feel that way).
      Meanwhile, with my cell phone, I can call for roadside assistance and home.
      WHEN I remember to bring the thing along...

      May 20, 2011 at 14:32 | Report abuse |
  6. Barb

    Thank you, Dr. Gupta.

    May 20, 2011 at 09:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Jim

    These findings are interesting but no surprise. When the first hand held phones first came out, I commented to anyone who used them that the concentration of microwave radiation so close to the brain during transmission was not a good idea.
    Today it is even more so. We are constant ly bombarded with microwave radiation. The problem is that as the frequency
    of the radiation used gets higher the energy of the radiation also increases. This radiation generated by the phone is very
    close to the brain. This radiation constantly bombarding the organic molecules of our brain will produce changes, and
    these changes could be cancerous. The odds of this happening increase with the amount of exposure. Occasional use
    probably will not matter, but continuous use probably will. The question is, is it worth the chance to use the phone frequently?


    May 20, 2011 at 09:38 | Report abuse | Reply
    • EM

      The energy per photon increases with frequency, however on the 'wave' model scale that exists between the phone and head the energy is related only to intensity, so how much power absorption the brain is subject to is related to the amplitude of the signals, not their frequency.


      More generally, the suggestion to opt for a wired headset is misleading. In fact, the cable connecting the phone to your headset will have currents induced on it and will resonate, often resulting in an even worse case than just holding the phone directly to your head. A bluetooth option is preferable from a SAR perspective.

      May 20, 2011 at 10:08 | Report abuse |
  8. JeJe

    Noticed this in the article
    "my neck doesn’t hurt after being on the phone for a long conference call, and given that many of those calls take place in a car".
    You should not be using cell phones in Cars. Using cell phones in cars in more dangerous as cancer may kill you but calls while driving will kill others.

    May 20, 2011 at 09:46 | Report abuse | Reply
    • icrabbidppl

      the actual quote would be, "and given that many of those calls take place in a car, an earpiece becomes a requirement."

      so he is already stating one should be hands-free if talking when driving.

      May 20, 2011 at 11:17 | Report abuse |
    • Sdogg

      I doubt that he's driving a car without a fully integrated hands-free bluetooth system (which means no devices anywhere near your head). What's he driving? A used 97' Oldsmobile??? I don't buy it!

      May 20, 2011 at 11:29 | Report abuse |
  9. T

    Can't they make a cell phone with a shell that blocks the radiation ? Is that possible ?

    May 20, 2011 at 09:48 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Shane

      It wouldn't work then. The radiation is what carries the communication signal.

      May 20, 2011 at 10:26 | Report abuse |
    • Leo

      Maybe it is possible; it has to block the radiation toward the head and to allow it to radiate in the oposite direction; just any piece of metal would do it

      May 20, 2011 at 11:27 | Report abuse |
    • asdf

      Then you'd have to face in a particular direction to communicate with the cell tower, and would have your calls dropped if you turned to look at something.

      May 20, 2011 at 12:22 | Report abuse |
    • phytoplankton

      Yes. This is being done in phones today. However, it's not a complete blockage; rather the phone body and composition, the antenna itself, the antenna position, and the antenna radiation pattern (e.g., radiation lobe positioning) are designed and tuned for reduced Specific Absorption Rates (SAR). These efforts began well over 10 years ago.

      May 20, 2011 at 13:36 | Report abuse |
    • Xolani

      My husband has the HTC Evo 3D and loves it. It is a thin phone with a very big sceern (bigger than the iPhone). The battery life is great, and it is much better than his past phones. If you have 4G in your area, the data is super fast. The camera quality is good but not as good at the new iPhone 4s. It can take 3D photos and videos, but we don't use the feature (hurts our eyes & kinda weird). Of course it has all the Android benefits. Personally I love having a keyboard on my phone, and that is the one feature that I miss with many of the new smartphones on the market.

      November 14, 2012 at 07:42 | Report abuse |
  10. Mick

    I would like to know about the incidence of hand cancer. I hold my phone in my hand and I worry that it might be causing cancer of the knuckles or palms. Should I maybe be holding my phone with tongs or a wrench?

    May 20, 2011 at 10:20 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Dr M

      Yes, Mick. You should definitely be holding your cell phone with tongs or a wrench.

      May 20, 2011 at 10:35 | Report abuse |
    • JimboJones

      Insulated oven mitt. Tongs or a wrench are SO last season.

      May 20, 2011 at 12:34 | Report abuse |
  11. Tom

    Dr Gupta did not say that he uses it while driving. Each State/County/City has their own law regarding use of cellphones. He probably obeys each law wherever it applies. Smoking isn't healthy for people around you, but there are laws in place there, too.

    May 20, 2011 at 10:29 | Report abuse | Reply
    • swanson

      the whole "why is Sanjay driving a car while on the phone " thing has nothing to do with this article.

      May 20, 2011 at 12:49 | Report abuse |
  12. Worried in MI

    How about hands free bluetooth speaker phones for cars? Is there any issues using those (not the ones that you wear in your ear making you look like someone out of Star Trek!!)

    May 20, 2011 at 10:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Jessica Johnson

    Recent studies suggest "Cell Phone Exposure May Cause Bone Weakening."


    May 20, 2011 at 10:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Joe

    I read that wired headset when plugged in the cell phone can be considered as an antenna ending in your ear. I don't know physics enough to judge if this is true but if it is – then wired headset is not much a solution.

    May 20, 2011 at 10:31 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Lito

      This is a good question. When reading this I realized that some of the phones on the market today have a built-in FM radio, and at least the Nokia brands require you to plug in the headset for the FM radio to work. YOu can still listen to the regular speaker, but the headset is required because that acts as the FM radio antenna. Now, I have no clue if that means anything, but I guess I never thought of the fact that I have an entenna ending in my ear....

      I have one other point to make: cordless phones have been around as long as (if not longer) than cell phones. I also understand that the typical cordless handset uses significantly more power to transmit its signal back to the base than a cell phone. I know plenty of people who spend hours and hours on their cordless phone at home, but nobody seems to worry? My wife works at home and is on our cordless phone for 3-5 hours per day...why isn't this ever discussed? Does that mean she is 10-times more likely to get a brain tumor? Is it a different kind of radio wave?

      May 20, 2011 at 11:56 | Report abuse |
  15. james

    I will be buying a wired earpiece this weekend.

    May 20, 2011 at 10:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Dan

    This will be as about as conclusive as PSA testing.

    May 20, 2011 at 10:36 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Bert

      This is a poor comparison. PSA testing is accurate, it indicates how the prostate gland is functioning. It does not directly detect cancer in the gland. However, if tracked over time it can indicate a need for further investigation if the figures change quickly or exceed normal parameters. I know from experience having had prostate cancer removed a few years ago. Until a better detection method is found this is the best that we have. The digital exam is not enough since it can only cover a portion of the gland and does not detect anything deep within the gland. The PSA test is a simple blood test. The earlier prostate cancer is detected the better. You do not want it to get out of the gland. Start tracking your PSA by the time you are 50 and maybe earlier if you have a history of it in your family, both sides.

      May 20, 2011 at 11:03 | Report abuse |
    • asdf

      "The earlier prostate cancer is detected the better."

      Not necessarily. A large fraction of prostate cancers, particularly if detected in men in their 70's, will progress slowly enough that the patient will die of something else first. Taking aggressive treatment could expose patients to needless risk of incontinence and erectile problems.

      May 20, 2011 at 12:26 | Report abuse |
  17. Kay Nelson

    I've been using a cell since the mid-nineties. But for the last 3 I've had an iPhone so I do alot of texting and emailing, since it's easier on a touch-screen. Unfortunately, I'm also losing my hearing so when I do make or take a call, I have to press the speaker as close to my ear as possible in order to hear the conversation. At every opportunity, I do use speakerphone, but some people find it annoying, even when I assure them there's no one else in the room!

    May 20, 2011 at 10:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Richard Cameron

    The news item has come as no surprise to me. I have been aware of the issues for years, since a Doctor friend of mine made me aware of the problem. In many ways its like history repeating itself – many years ago cigarette manufacturers were telling us that smoking was good for you! – we all laugh at that now. Now we have the situation that even the cell phone makers tell us in their instructions not to put a phone against our bodies when switched on – do they know something that we don’t. I have been using a wired headset for years and recently here in the UK I have switched to using a air headset that plugs into my cell phone and simply transmits the sound to my ear by an air tube so there is no chance of any meaningful radiation getting to my brain. Unfortunately when people wake up to the problem it will already be too late.

    May 20, 2011 at 10:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. tldixon

    We're really fascinated by our technology whether we need it or not-do we really need to tell evryone evry little thing-the cel phones that act as tracers so people can track ones movement just flat out give me the willies-verizon tried to sell me a phone w/GPS and a digital compass which only work if one gets a signal-if I have a signal I probably have a good idea where I am-it's when I don't get a signal that I might be unsure where I am-I only care my cel phone on my person at work or when I'm covering call and fear I wont hear it ring laying on my desk-the answer is simple-don't haul it around or use it unless it's truly call/text worthy

    May 20, 2011 at 10:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Elizabeth

    Look up "Earthing." Sounds like a crazy idea, but I think it works.

    May 20, 2011 at 10:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Kiersten

    As my physics teacher says, I doubt the risk is high, because my atom's don't vibrate to that frequency.

    May 20, 2011 at 10:52 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Leo

      The atoms don't vibrate but some of your brain cells may be cooked by microwaves. Who knows how many need to be cooked to start a tumor?

      May 20, 2011 at 11:21 | Report abuse |
  22. David

    I have worked in the Mobile phone industry for 16 years and have worked for a major cell phone manufacturer. Please use a bluetooth headset not a wired one. RF radiation travels up a wired headset and is like an amplifier! Its is like the old microwave ovens had a cable you could plug into the turkey to cook the inside. The same thing happens with a wired headset. Never keep it close to your body as when it moves further away from a tower the RF antenna (radiation) works harder to reach the tower.(emits more radiation into your body). Keep your phone away from your body and use a Bluetooth (emits very low radiation compared to phone). There is a reason manufacturers hire an army of lawyers to cover their liability. My father was on his crackberry for hours per day and died of a brain tumor located over the ear where he always had his phone. Don't become a statistic.....

    May 20, 2011 at 11:01 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Leo

      RF engineer here too; I heard exactly the same, that the wire is used as an antenna to improve the efficiency of the phone; I haven't seen any schematics of the phone to know if this is true or not. To be honest, I think it is not true – it is really hard to make cell phone antennae so I doubt that the phone manufacturer would allow any type of wire to be used as an antenna.

      May 20, 2011 at 11:18 | Report abuse |
    • asdf

      Your body is constantly bombarded by radio waves from cosmic and man-made sources (hello, radio stations). How much difference could a tiny antenna make?

      May 20, 2011 at 12:29 | Report abuse |
  23. Cole

    Does anybody have the contact information of the scientest at Cetecom doing the testing in this video?

    May 20, 2011 at 11:03 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Manuzz

      You actually make it seem so easy with your pretnetasion but I find this matter to be actually something which I think I would never understand. It seems too complicated and very broad for me. I’m looking forward for your next post, I’ll try to get the hang of it!

      November 14, 2012 at 14:57 | Report abuse |
  24. Vadi

    I work for a cell phone compny and as part of my every day work I had to use cell for continuous period of time. I was diagnosed with Accoustic Nuroma and underwent a surgey. I still beleive that tumor was caused by cell phone but can be proved scientifically.

    May 20, 2011 at 11:05 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Charlesstoob

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      August 30, 2017 at 11:58 | Report abuse |
  25. SoulCatcher

    How about a daily dose of Rad-X will that help?

    May 20, 2011 at 11:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Michelle T

    I use email most of the time – only a cell if I'm out and about and if the call can't wit till I get home. Most of them can wait. I also use Dragon dictation to dictate emails or texts then copy and paste them to send them out, after a few edits. this means I don't have to use the keyboard which is pretty tiny, any more than I have to.

    May 20, 2011 at 11:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Michelle T

    ...but I have strongly considered getting the bluetooth earpiece for me and my 18 year old son who mostly texts anyway... I thi nk I'll buy them this weekend!

    May 20, 2011 at 11:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. David

    One of the things this company likely don't test is distance to a cell tower. They only test radiation absorption on a call. The amount of RF the device puts out depends on distance to a cell tower on a call or searching for tower. Manufacturers test all of that themselves. The RF engineers can tell you that you should not be on calls when you have low bars on your phone. The amount of RF goes up big time!

    May 20, 2011 at 11:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Jamie

    the ABC show 20/20 reported on this very subject back in the late '90s. They even interviewed Sir Richard Branson, who was among the first to develop cell phone ear buds for the sake of saving people from getting brain tumors. Apparently, a bunch of British and European scientists were doing all kinds of studies, because no American scientists could get the funding from the government or from corporations who didn't want these facts to be made public.

    The fact that more people don't know about it is partially their own fault. But, as usual, it's also partially the fault of a few people with lots of money and influence.

    May 20, 2011 at 11:22 | Report abuse | Reply
    • mrblue

      Give us names of those to blame for hiding this information, give us names of those who can study this information. without these facts you hav weak rhetoric, nothing else.

      May 20, 2011 at 17:35 | Report abuse |
  30. Shelly Kalnitsky

    I am the editor of the cell phone radiation news bureau http://www.cprnews.com, with over 170 studies on cell phone dangers posted under world news, very few from the USA big business.
    I receive reports of brain tumors every month from cell and cordless phones. Dr Gupta suggests using a wired headset WRONG- THEY CONDUCT UP TO 3 X MORE RADIATION INTO YOUR EAR THAN JUST PLACING THE PHONE THERE and when using the wired headset in a car you are in contact with a microwave tower.As you driove ,you go from one tower to the next and receive a burst of radiation you are not even aware of.Bluetooth is equally as bad as thesignal from the phone carries radiation directly into your ear.And children are at the greatest risk.In France , BY LAW if you are under 14 you can not use a cellphone.Many european countries also have restrictions–NOT THE USA.

    May 20, 2011 at 11:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. Elvis

    A relative of mine was diagnosed with brain cancer at 27 years old. I have read that the incidence of these cancers is rising. Why don't we all stop behaving like lemmings and decide if it's really necessary to have a cell phone pushed against our heads for hours every day? Driving while talking on a cell phone should be an offense punishable by a night in jail. At least the rest of us would be safer on the road for one night.

    May 20, 2011 at 11:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. Lynda

    This makes sense as too many cellphone yappers seem to have brain-damage.

    Guess that idiot who was on a cellphone for 16 hours, while in an Amtrak 'quiet' car, will get her just-desserts for being such a pain to everyone.

    Karma can be a wonderful thing, huh?

    May 20, 2011 at 11:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. becca

    Yes, we should be more aware of the long term consequences of our actions, particularly cell phone use. Our health is too precious to not care about effects of radiation from cell phones.

    May 20, 2011 at 11:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. paul c

    I live (10 years) in a high rise apartment Bldg. on the top floor. Within 15 feet of my apt., there are 9 cell phone towers. MD's have been unable to determine cause of various new ailments. Cause and effect?

    May 20, 2011 at 11:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. debbie

    My ear canals are very small and apparently they are crooked, I have a terrible time with ear pieces, any suggestions?

    May 20, 2011 at 11:52 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Sdogg

      Probably just use the speaker phone if possible. Sorry, probably doesn't help much!

      May 20, 2011 at 11:56 | Report abuse |
    • Bob The Builder

      Use a drill to normalize your ears.

      May 22, 2011 at 23:03 | Report abuse |
  36. Don

    Shouldn't there be an increase in the cases of ear cancer and skin cancer right by the ear too?

    May 20, 2011 at 11:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. Diane R aymond

    My husband is a long term survivor of a glioblastoma multiforme IV brain tumor. He was diagnosed in 2003 and has had clear MRIs for the past five years. He is a rarity in the brain tumor group. He used the Motorola "brick" cell phone 18 years ago. He would not give it up and used it a lot for business calls and regular use. I know a couple of others who have lost their loved ones to this type of cancer and confirmed that usage of the "brick" around the same time. I definitely believe that there is a correlation. More people are being diagnosed, as more phones have beein in use . I believe that the phone companies are not being honest with the consumers, and it will end up like the cigarette companies and nicotine. Complete denial on their part . . .

    May 20, 2011 at 11:59 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Pat Hill

      My first husband had the same brick phone, was diagnosed with the same tumor, but did not survive. He was addicted to those early phones – and I have always felt they were the cause, as his tumor was located directly over his right ear. He was in perfect health, yet died after one year of treatment in 1992 at the age of 45. I'm glad you hear that your husband beat the statistics.

      May 20, 2011 at 13:02 | Report abuse |
  38. Ann

    What about the cordless phones many of us use in our homes? Do they have the same effect on our brains? And, is texting better than a verbal call?

    May 20, 2011 at 12:04 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Leo

      texting takes only 2 seconds of transmit power – much better than a 30 min call.

      May 20, 2011 at 16:20 | Report abuse |
  39. Chris

    As a salesperson and scientist that uses a cell phone every day, I have reviewed the studies and have concluded that there is absolutely zero evidence that cell phones cause cancer. Every study that has been done has been completely inconclusive and full of errors. For instance, the same study that says heavy cell phone users have an increased risk of cancer, also report that moderate cell phone users LOWER their risk for cancer (which makes no sense). Most of the studies rely on respondent memory of their cell phone usage, which is fraught with "memory bias".

    It is also important to note that the general brain cancer rate for the past 20 years has remained pretty much unchanged. One would think that if cell phones were that carcinogenic you would see some sort of spike in brain cancers, but no such spike exists.

    In addition (and most importantly), there is no known biological pathway that can explain how non-ionizing radiation (the kind that cell phones emit) can cause cancer. It's just not possible with everything we know about genes and cancer.

    While I suppose there is nothing wrong with someone using a headpiece, keep in mind that the wireless variety emit radio waves as well.

    I am actually surprised that a neurosurgeon as trained as Dr. Gupta (in addition to the few others he mentioned) could be duped by such bad science.

    May 20, 2011 at 12:08 | Report abuse | Reply
    • gman21

      Scientists found no "convincing" evidence whenever they are paid by special interests.

      May 20, 2011 at 12:19 | Report abuse |
    • Fiona

      The "lowering" of risk means statistical risk, against the rest of the field. It does make sense.

      May 20, 2011 at 13:00 | Report abuse |
    • Darryl

      Chris, you are being short sighted. First of all, latency as was explained in the blog is important. It takes 20-3- years for a brain tumor to appear after the exposure. In the US, cell phones have been popular for around 15 years. If you look at Denmark, the brain tumor rates have increased. As far as biological mechanism goes, there is not just a possible one, but also an actual one. The temperature increase, albeit small, along with increased glucose metabolism are both potential mechanisms, and the increased metabolism was just demonstrated by a study from the NIH. Chris, you're a scientist. Get your head out of the sand.

      May 20, 2011 at 13:20 | Report abuse |
    • Chris


      That is absurd. Temperature increases do not cause cancer. If that were the case than taking a bath would cause cancer. As for the latency, if that were the case, one would expect SOME increase in cancer rates shown in the data, but you don't see it, especially given all the anecdotal cases that people claim to have been caused by cell phone use over the past decade. You can't say there is latency on one hand, and than on the other claim that all these cancers are currently being caused by cell phones.

      Also, please point to a study that demonstrates increased glucose metabolism causes cancer. I am familiar with that study that showed cell phones caused increased metabolism, but that study in no way linked the higher metabolism to cancer. You won't find such a study because glucose metabolism levels in the brain increase FAR more while say, dreaming, than any cell phone has shown to cause. Again, there is no actual scientific justification for that statement, just the usual causality drivel.

      May 20, 2011 at 13:41 | Report abuse |
    • Suri

      Chris, you should really stop posting. Your most cogent argument about water temeperatures being equated to non-ionizing radiation is absurd. Everything else is plain ridiculous. Yes. There has been increases in brain cancer rates in countries that were early adopters. In the US, the demographics of the brain tumor population has changed. While the numbers have not gone up signficantly, the average brain tumor patient has become younger, wealthier and male. The exact population that could afford a cell phone back in the mid -90's. Move on you troll.

      May 20, 2011 at 15:07 | Report abuse |
  40. gman21

    Also, it has been found that radiations from cellphone towers affect bees in disorienting them, not being able to get back to their hives (Source: reports from India).

    May 20, 2011 at 12:18 | Report abuse | Reply
    • neutrino

      I traced this back to what appears to be its source in an Indian report:
      There's actually no evidence at all of cell phones or towers causing any problems for bees. The author notes that bee populations have recently declined and posits that maybe its due to cell phone towers, but with no evidence (p25-26). The whole report is full of similar unsupported claims, so I don't think it makes a good reference.

      May 20, 2011 at 12:42 | Report abuse |
  41. dan

    What about the oxygen machine for sleep apnea? It has a modem and has to be near your head every night for many hours?

    May 20, 2011 at 12:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. Amoi

    Dr. Gupta statement that it is too early to know if cell phone usage causes brain tumors is not true. My dad's neurologist said two years ago that it is common knowledge among their profession that cell phone usage has shown an increase in brain tumors. The brain tumors develop on the side of the brain where the cell phone is used. The neurologist says that this medical knowledge is based on studies and their is not a question it is a fact. I want to hear who sponsors Dr. Gupta's news activity so he can sway information to the detriment of the consumers. According to this neurologist they've known about an increase in brain tumors as a result of cell phone usage for many years.

    Misleading the consumers is not right. It is justified by the wireless industry profit interest.

    May 20, 2011 at 12:29 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Fiona

      I remember reading about an observed (anecdotal evidence) increase in tumors on the right side of the head were people hold cell phones. But it was one of those "warrants further study" reports. I haven't seen anything conclusive on this. Generally speaking, if you see neurosurgeons using earpieces, do the same. If you see them ditching the cells altogether...take heed.

      May 20, 2011 at 12:55 | Report abuse |
  43. Tony

    Working in the realm of RF technology for years from LF up to microwaves the sometimes strange ways that RF energy can propagate along a transmission line and in this focus a wired ear piece made of metal leads how can anyone ensure that even a wired device is safe? Granted cell phones are up close to the L band spectrum with very short wave lengths however with no in-depht high tech, long term studys this is way too early and least to say still in the very infancy of exactly how safe any of these devices are. It's like saying I don't inhale when I smoke therefore I can't get cancer......

    May 20, 2011 at 12:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. Fiona

    I use a cell phone maybe once every few weeks, for two minutes or so. I still have a land line! So what about EM radiation from cordless land-line phones? And what about wireless networks in the home and office? As someone else mentioned, I feel uneasy when I use my iPad in my lap - the most natural place to put it when you;re sitting on a sofa or comfy chair. I mean that literally...I feel like it's affecting my body.

    If you ever want a good laugh, do a search on electro-magnetic radiation protection devices. I'm not a member of the Tin Hat Brigade, but cell phones have always bothered me.

    May 20, 2011 at 12:48 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Bob The Builder

      Cordless phones cause your testicles and/or chesticles to fall off.

      May 22, 2011 at 23:07 | Report abuse |
  45. JLC

    Mobile phone produces non-ionizing radiation. That doesn't cause cancer. To date, there are no studies that definitively link mobile phone usage to cancers. Correlation does not equal causation. Just because someone develops a tumor on one side of their head or the other, or develops cancer on their thigh, does not mean their mobile phone caused it.

    Ask your neurologist to cite the study...it's the same discussion we had twenty years ago when it was claimed that power lines caused cancer.

    May 20, 2011 at 12:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. Fran Drake

    It will be interesting to see how the Wi-Fi clouds we are living in are going to impact the cells of our body over time....

    May 20, 2011 at 12:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. ecarlson

    It is really not plausible that cell phone use causes cancer. The heating to the brain from this non-ionizing radiation is far less than you get from, say, washing your hair. If you decide to skip cell phone use because you are worried about the radiation, you should also be washing your hair with cold water, or perhaps simply not washing your hair.

    I also find it silly that Dr. Gupta is taking precautions against cell phone radiation, but totally ignoring his irresponsible use of a cell phone while driving. The latter is FAR more dangerous than any conceivable risk from the former, even if he is doing it hands free.

    May 20, 2011 at 12:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. Peter S

    This may be a non issue for our kids. They don't hold a phone to their head they are using Skype and Facetime so they are looking at them!

    May 20, 2011 at 12:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. jl

    There is a real estate agent in my office who was just diagnoised with Glioblastomas (brain tumor, stage 4) a few weeks ago. The individual has been using a cell phone since back in the day when people used the brick phones. Perfectly healthy otherwise, but had a phone to his head non stop due to his profession. This is a very interesting article and might have some truth to it.

    May 20, 2011 at 13:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. cy

    "It is too early to say". It is NOT too early to say. We KNOW that the cell phone radio operate at an energy about 1 million times below the energy required to ionize and do cellular damage. Furthermore, if you choose to ignore science and rely only on epidemiology - which can show correlations but not causation - there is plenty of data as well. While the cell phone did not become popular in the US till about 15 years ago, the rest of the world has a longer history and significantly faster adoption rate. Why ignore that information? In addition, these studies make the assumption that if an effect becomes obvious in 20 years to everyone who is exposed, it shows up in smaller parts of the exposed population earlier. No such effect has been seen at *any* level.

    If people want to ignore evidence and rely on prejudice, it is certainly their privilege. Just don't pretend that there is justification.

    May 20, 2011 at 13:09 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Devon

      Cy, Have you looked at the data? Since you brought it up, teh Denmark and Scandinavia data are quite compelling. In fact, the brain tumor incidence has increased there, especially among wealthy males, those who have been using cell phones the longest. So, the question is why are YOU ignoring that information?

      May 20, 2011 at 13:16 | Report abuse |
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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.