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. Keith R.

    A cell phone next to your ear and a cell phone sitting on a desk both expose you to the same amount of radiation. The difference between moving it from your ear to somewhere else within reach is negligible. The signal doesn't suddenly die off in intensity within a few inches or even a few feet. The signal carries at roughly the same strength for at least a half mile, and depending on the phone, sometimes much more than that. Furthermore, the phone operates only the transmit signal – when taking a call, you're being bombarded with both the incoming and outgoing signal radiation, and not only that – but everyone else within range is too.

    May 20, 2011 at 15:56 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Leo

      You have no clue about RF! The intensity of the signal drops with the inverse of the square of the distance from the antenna! So you don't get the same amount of radiation; more than that, it is not the brain that gets most of it when you keep the phone far away from the head. While it is true that when you make a call you get both the incoming and the outgoing signal radiation, the incoming signal is billion times weaker than the outgoing (remember, the signal intensity drops with the square of the distance – the phone is within feets from you while the base station is typically half a mile or more away).

      May 20, 2011 at 16:07 | Report abuse |
    • DM

      Every point of Keith's comment is incorrect.

      May 20, 2011 at 16:12 | Report abuse |
    • Bill

      I would like to add what has already been said. Keith R. has no clue about physics or the inverse square law.

      May 20, 2011 at 16:19 | Report abuse |
    • Doug D.

      Please take a course in electrical engineering.

      May 20, 2011 at 16:20 | Report abuse |
    • NotInCellPhoneBiz

      "The signal doesn't suddenly die off in intensity within a few inches or even a few feet."
      That is an incorrect statement. All electromagnetic waves (radio, light, X-rays, etc.) obey the inverse-square law which states that the power density of an electromagnetic wave is proportional to the inverse of the square of the distance from a point source – which in this discussion would be a cell phone. Just moving the cell phone 1 inch away from direct contact with your head reduces the intensity by 75%.

      May 20, 2011 at 16:20 | Report abuse |
    • DB

      Leo is right so are people who speak of inverse square law. Additionally, weak inbound signal, means more power output from cell unit.

      May 20, 2011 at 16:24 | Report abuse |
    • DB

      I tempted to say the power flux (power per unit area) is bound to follow inverse cube law, since the flux has to fall as the volume expands...

      May 20, 2011 at 16:29 | Report abuse |
    • DB

      Made a mistake in last post. I shd have considered area of sphere for flux – the relation should be inverse square since the area of the sphere is 4*pi*sq(r).

      May 20, 2011 at 16:38 | Report abuse |
    • Eric the RF Communications Expert

      I just want to thank everyone who pointed out that Keith – in every single one of his points – is both incorrect and clueless. Unfortunately, we live in a day and age when the ownership of a computer seems to create large numbers of "anonymous experts" who believe that their typing skills alone warrant their having a credible opinion. At least his grammar and spelling skills were better than most, eh?

      May 20, 2011 at 17:25 | Report abuse |
    • Gene

      Leo et. al. are of course quite correct.

      Perhaps what Keith meant was that the average cell phone conversation ("...what are you doing? Not much, what are YOU doing?...) will turn your cerebral cortex to the consistency of soft farina.

      May 20, 2011 at 17:28 | Report abuse |
    • J.R.

      Oh man Keith, I guess this pretty much qualifies as FAIL.

      May 20, 2011 at 17:42 | Report abuse |
    • MJ

      I think Keith got his info from a wiki and we all know wikis know everything about everything.

      May 20, 2011 at 18:01 | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      Keith R. I don't see M.D. next to your name..........................I think the researchers and Doctors know more than you.

      May 20, 2011 at 18:19 | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      Pretty insane what Keith R. thinks and says.
      Wonder where he gets his information.

      May 20, 2011 at 18:25 | Report abuse |
    • joe schmuck

      Wow, it would be so awesome if all the BIG BRAINS in the room here would stop trying to one-up each other, and instead use there $100K degrees to actually drop science speak (most is probably paid for by random taxpayers, cool that they could understand what their paycheck is actually doing).

      Simple language, no political gak like the netword media. Just call a spade a spade, and if it doesn't match your political slant, then be one of the first good "recent" Americans and don't slant crap/truth to make it favorabable to a political party.

      I just spent about 45 min on this, don't really have time to waste, hope it was usefull and that I dont get boned. Do something dammit....

      May 20, 2011 at 18:36 | Report abuse |
    • Peter

      You're forgetting about the inverse square law. A radio an inch from your skull is worse than one a foot or two away. The power drops of greatly with distance, even a small distance.

      May 20, 2011 at 20:27 | Report abuse |
    • Gene

      Yeah, sorry, Joe. I see you're one of the ubiquitous netizens who can't even distinguish "there", "their", and "they're".

      So, pay attention, here we go.

      See Spot run. Run, Spot, run. See Sally run...

      May 21, 2011 at 13:58 | Report abuse |
    • DB

      Clearly, Keith has no clue what he is talking about, and should educate himself first. It's these kinds of uninformed opinions from highly pretentious people who ignore all science in favor of nonsense that lead to most of the wrong policy decisions in USA. Think evolution vs creationism.

      May 22, 2011 at 08:24 | Report abuse |
  2. George. B

    Before the introduction of cell phone people were calling me moron. You cannot blame everything on the cell phone

    May 20, 2011 at 16:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Steve

    What about wireless headsets (i.e.Bluetooth devices)? Are they the same as wired headsets or do they release radiation as well?

    May 20, 2011 at 16:14 | Report abuse | Reply
    • zethreal

      Everything wireless uses radio waves. It will be weaker from a bluetooth device as they're only designed to send a signal a few feet instead of a mile or more, but they still are broadcasting radio waves in 360 degrees.

      May 20, 2011 at 16:41 | Report abuse |
    • The Lunatic

      The signal strength from blue-tooth is far lower, really almost negligable. The more important fact is that both use a "non-ionizing" frequency so it does NOT make the molecules in your cells vibrate to generate heat, like a microwave oven does.

      May 20, 2011 at 17:38 | Report abuse |
    • ayup

      Microwaves are non-ionizing.

      May 20, 2011 at 17:58 | Report abuse |
    • Gene

      "Making molecules vibrate" is NOT a salient characteristic of ionizing radiation. Infrared wavelengths (ordinary heat) "make molecules vibrate".

      May 21, 2011 at 14:10 | Report abuse |
  4. TR

    I'm no scientist and I get the relationship between distance from A transmitter and the danger, but I have a hard time believing that this distance factor is not at least somewhat undermined by the simple fact that we are not talking about A single transmitter but millions and millions of transmitters sending out radiation all the time. Clearly people arent dropping dead from cell phone use yet, but like those who dont believe in the risks of burning fossil fuels until you ask them if they'd close themselves in their garage with the car running, I bet at least some of the people poo-pooing the danger of cell phones will be asking themselves why not limit the use or buy a wired ear-piece. As for the notion that the wired earpieces increases the risk of cancer that would be easily verified by measuring the radiation emitted from such earpieces when they're used. Finally, I can't help but wonder what the impact of all this radiation is on medical issues other than cancer; how about autism? Somehow there seems to have been a coincidental increase in autism cases over the past 2 decades...

    May 20, 2011 at 16:15 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Don

      The main reason there has been an increase in the rates of autism is that we have gotten better at diagnosing it and people often (mistakenly) use it as a blanket term for many different syndromes.

      However there has been a rise in the popularity of "Harry Potter" too. Hmm . . .

      May 20, 2011 at 16:44 | Report abuse |
    • jdoe

      We're both better at diagnosing Autism and at mistaking something else for it? Interesting.

      May 20, 2011 at 17:10 | Report abuse |
  5. Karen Hill

    Just like we protect ourselves from the radiation coming from the sun, we must protect ourselves and our children from the radiation coming from the cell phone. http://www.giawellness.com/karenhill

    May 20, 2011 at 16:16 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Peter Thieberger

      Radiation is too broad a term. There are distinctions. The UV radiation from the sun causes cancer because it is ionizing. That means that the photons have enough energy to knock loose electrons from the atoms. The photons of visible light have about 1/2 or 1/3 that energy and are harmless. The photons of cell phone radiation have about 1/1000000 that energy. You can draw your own conclusions.

      May 23, 2011 at 06:17 | Report abuse |
  6. Doug D.

    The RF signal strength attenuates with the inverse square law unless it is beamed. In addition there is also local magnetic induction from the antenna which drops of even quicker. Sure there is RF everywhere, but the intensity is much less than having the phone on your ear.

    May 20, 2011 at 16:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Tim

    my grandmother died of a brain tumor. she went sooo fast. doctors said that cell use was LIKELY the corporate. she was on all the time. also my mom works for Johms hopkins and i don't know where this study was that this article was based on but Dr.'s at JH just released a study linking brain tumors to cell use. ear pieaces help limit the radiation but you're still at risk. that impacted me pretty big so i usually txt or keep it on speaker.... i think there was a study saying the cause of bee's disappearing is linked to cell phones as well.

    May 20, 2011 at 16:26 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jason

      There is a "study" that says anything you can imagine. And there are experts who believe things which turn out to be incorrect, including doctors.

      May 20, 2011 at 18:08 | Report abuse |
  8. Rebecca

    I recently lost the love of my life from brain cancer. I have spent many months reviewing all kinds of material on this subject. I believe (as the Germans do) that cell phone use and cell phone wireless devices DO INDEED contribute to brain cancer. The increase we have seen recently is nothing to what we will see in the coming years. Beware folks – it could definitely happen to you.

    May 20, 2011 at 16:31 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jason

      People with autism in the family tend to be much more likely to believe that autism is connected to vaccines, even though this is clearly not the case. It is human nature to want explanations for tragedy, and those that result in blame being placed are especially attractive.

      May 20, 2011 at 18:14 | Report abuse |
  9. Brian in KS

    On April 10, 2009 I lost a 33 year-old best friend to brain tumors. The tumors formed directly above and behind his left ear. He was left-handed, and a very, very heavy cell phone user. On average he spent two hours talking on his cell phone every single day. He was not from America so he spent a lot of time talking to his friends and family back home in Nepal (and all around the world, for that matter, as he traveled extensively). No study will ever prove to me that the cell phone did not play a part in his death. He was otherwise the healthiest person I've ever met. http://www.tributes.com/show/Ravi-Malla-85701012

    May 20, 2011 at 16:33 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jeff S

      Sorry for your loss. But saying a study will never change your mind is a little short sighted dont you think? Surely you dont think that at this point in time you have all the information to make declare a link between cell phones and cancer based on incident with a person that was emotionally close to you do you? You are basing your scientific decision on emotion not on evidence.

      May 20, 2011 at 18:09 | Report abuse |
    • wakeup-call

      Brian, I am sorry for your loss. My husband recently passed away from a cell phone glioma. I started investigating and discovered that many of the studies have been funded by the industry, including the recent World Health Organization study. So you are right to have your doubts. They only let us know what they want us to know. That's why most cell phones come with warnings hidden away in the owner's manual, written so tiny you need a magnifying glass to read it! A disclaimer so they are not held responsible, but written so small that no one can see it. A win/win situation for a trillion dollar industry! Again, I'm sorry for your loss.

      May 24, 2011 at 01:58 | Report abuse |
  10. Hakan Karabagli

    Totaly I agree that

    May 20, 2011 at 16:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Matthew


    Enough said. Move on. Nothing to see here.

    May 20, 2011 at 16:45 | Report abuse | Reply
    • The Lunatic

      Excllent article, thank you.

      May 20, 2011 at 17:40 | Report abuse |
    • floatingzendo2

      That you Herzog?

      May 20, 2011 at 20:02 | Report abuse |
    • Jean

      Take a look at the comments under that scientific america article.

      May 21, 2011 at 18:17 | Report abuse |
  12. Nicole

    I just lost a dear friend of mine last year due to brain cancer and everyone at the funeral commented on how much he was ALWAYS on that cell phone, even the pastor doing the ulogy was saying "how he loved to talk on that cell phone". He was a very healthy man otherwise he died at the age of 44, so yes I totally agree this article is correct on brain tumors and cell phone use.

    May 20, 2011 at 17:06 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Nicole

      I meant to say a brain tumor not brain cancer

      May 20, 2011 at 17:15 | Report abuse |
    • The Lunatic

      Correlation does not equal causation.

      May 20, 2011 at 17:40 | Report abuse |
    • Paul Ronco

      >> Correlation does not equal causation.

      No, but it suggests it. Nicole, sorry about your loss.

      May 20, 2011 at 18:04 | Report abuse |
    • Fly Guy in SJ

      First of all, I'm very sorry for your loss.

      A very dear friend of mine also died of a brain tumor, and she never once in her life used a cell phone. She didn't even have a cordless phone. Should I take this as evidence that cell phones *don't* cause cancer?

      Of course not. What we both have here are single points of data. One person used cell phones a lot and died from a brain tumor. One person never used one and died from a brain tumor. Moreover, neither of these data points controls for other factors. For example, if a study were to find that people who wear purple T-shirts to work on Tuesday have more traffic accidents on Tuesday than people who don't that would show a correlation, but without controlling for other factors (i.e., what else do these people have in common?) it's hard to say that wearing a purple T-shirt is a smoking gun for the cause of the accidents.

      The bottom line – as Dr. Gupta says – is that we won't know until more time has passed and more studies have been done. The greatest study – statistical analysis of tumor rates in millions of cell users Vs. non-cell users – won't even be possible for years to come because a large enough population hasn't been using cell phones long enough.

      That said, as Dr. Gupta also notes, cell phones are a source of microwave radiation and keeping them away from you head until there is more information can't hurt you and might help you. I use speaker phone or a wired earpiece myself.

      May 20, 2011 at 18:20 | Report abuse |
    • Jason

      You saw one instance of brain cancer in an individual who uses a cell phone frequently and you're convinced? The study at the root of the conclusion that there is NO connection involved hundreds or possibly thousands of people. Don't you think the study authors might have a little more insight? The article doesn't mention whether Dr. Gupta even asked the study authors for their explanation for what he identifies as a piece of data that contradicts the study's conclusions. Generally, when someone finds data in a study that contradicts the same study's conclusions, that person is misinterpreting the data. It happens with climate science all the time.

      May 20, 2011 at 18:23 | Report abuse |
  13. Robb

    This may be a stupid question but if cell phones cause cancer, are you still not vulnerable with the phone sitting in your pocket, connected to your earpiece? Could it not still cause cancer in your legs or abdomen?

    May 20, 2011 at 17:20 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Kate

      In fact it does have effects elsewhere.... studies show that men who wear their cell phone on their belt have decreased sperm motility, shorter sperm lifespan, and changed appearance of the sperm.
      Mice exposed to RF radiation stop reproducing entirely within 5 generations.

      May 20, 2011 at 21:55 | Report abuse |
  14. treelover

    I've been an MRI technologist for over 10 years. MRI is HUGE electromagnetic & radiowave field! 1000 times stronger than a cell phone. MRI technologists are close to those magnets 40 hours a week and more for 2080 hours a year. A lot more than anyone is on a phone over a 1year period much less a 10 year period. This whole scare is rubbish. You need to be listening to a physicist or an electromagnetic engineer not Dr. Gupta.

    May 20, 2011 at 17:23 | Report abuse | Reply
    • A Physicist

      You have to divide up the different fields that an MRI puts out. The HUGE field is a static magnetic field (not rf) and that is shielded so it falls off very rapidly. Then there are the rf fields used in the imaging, but a technician is not going to be anywhere close to those while it is running. And again, there is always the question of latency. Sorry, but physicists and engineers can't shut the book on this one, it will be interesting to see how this plays out.

      May 20, 2011 at 17:48 | Report abuse |
    • Paul Ronco

      Thanks APhysisicist, we're really lucky to have your input. Keep up the good fight.

      May 20, 2011 at 18:02 | Report abuse |
    • dave

      Don't the techs usually leave the room when it's on??????

      May 20, 2011 at 18:21 | Report abuse |
    • Kate

      When I had an MRI done a couple of months ago, the technician was outside the sealed room, communicating with me via a microphone. Not up close at all, once the machine was running...

      May 20, 2011 at 21:56 | Report abuse |
    • DB

      Clearly, you are a MRI technician, and not a biologist nor a RF specialist. Please stick to what you know, and don't venture into topics that are far above your level of training and knowledge. Of course, feel free to educate yourself on this topic, first, and that does NOT mean consulting Wiki.

      May 22, 2011 at 08:29 | Report abuse |
  15. irritated

    many people on cell phones already appear to have had brain damage

    May 20, 2011 at 17:34 | Report abuse | Reply
    • lefty avenger

      Especially when they are on their Cell Phones or texting while on the highway going 10 mph!

      May 20, 2011 at 17:40 | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      Very good point!!!

      May 20, 2011 at 18:21 | Report abuse |
  16. prommy

    Radiation is inversley proportianal to (M+W)/G*width..:)

    May 20, 2011 at 17:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Demismom

    So is there something those of us who wear hearing aids can use? Can the standard ear pieces be used with hearing aids?

    May 20, 2011 at 17:39 | Report abuse | Reply
    • tevan

      Yes, talk to your audiologist.

      May 20, 2011 at 18:53 | Report abuse |
  18. lefty avenger

    Working mainly by email and using pay phones I am the only person in the world without a cell phone. The great Apocalyptic vision of myself in a future world surrounded by 6 billion corpses still clutching their cell phones and ithings in desperation makes for one heck of a movie plot! You don't need Will Smith for this movie, I will do it and i'm good! Instead of the stand you can call it the the lone non-cell phone man.

    May 20, 2011 at 17:39 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Avionics Tech

      There are still Pay Phones?! Geez, haven't seen one of those in years!

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

      no, you aren't the only one-you couldn't pay me to have one.

      May 20, 2011 at 18:22 | Report abuse |
  19. Joshua

    Mr. Gupta shows a complete lack of even a basic understanding of physics. Look up the electromagnetic spectrum. You'll see that radio and microwaves have the lowest frequencies of all types, far lower even than visible light. The energy and, therefore, the danger of the light to living tissue decreases with frequency. So, if cell phone signals cause cancer, so should the color green.

    Take physics. It's good for you.

    May 20, 2011 at 17:41 | Report abuse | Reply
    • A Physicist

      The problem with your argument is that visible light doesn't enter the body. It bounces off the surface, hence we can see each other. The body is at least partially transparent to radio waves. So while they are lower energy, the brain never ever comes into contact with the color green. It sees radio waves all the time.

      May 20, 2011 at 17:52 | Report abuse |
    • Not a Physicist

      But here's my understanding of how color works:

      If white light hits an object that object will absorb some of that light, whatever wavelenghts of the spectrum it does not absorb will be scatter that scatter of photons will be the color of the object.

      Now here's why the above "physicist" is wrong. First, if light is to be sensed it must enter the body. Indeed, it must enter the body through the EYE and sensed by photoreceptors in the retina. Second, if humans are to have color (which they do) the color of their skin will be whatever wavelengths are not absorbed by the skin. Therefore, the skin absorbs light.

      I'm a medical student

      May 20, 2011 at 18:19 | Report abuse |
    • Disappointed

      Damn, I like green....

      May 20, 2011 at 18:23 | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      Joshua, there may be an inverse relation between wavelength and energy, but there is no such relation between wavelength and the potential to harm biological tissue. In the first place, that harm depends highly on resonance (including its side-effects of transparency and opacity), and resonance is extremely non-linear. In the second place, the energy that is inversely proportional to wavelength is the ENERGY PER QUANTUM (photon), not the total energy of a radiation source. A 100 kilowatt AM radio station and a 100 kilowatt FM radio station transmit energy at the same rate, even though the FM station emits far fewer photons.

      May 20, 2011 at 18:38 | Report abuse |
    • DB

      The purported medical student above is actually right, in many of the points he/she makes. Maybe he/she IS a medical student, who also understands basic physics. The only point he/she ignores (especially, if he/she IS a medical student) is that through billions of years of evolution, only the biological systems that can survive exposure to "normal" levels of light and other sun related radiations, have survived. Everything else perished. That does not, in any way, shape, or form, imply that our biology can handle constant exposure to microwave radiation. In fact, many studies now show the opposite - that there is significant damage to variety of biological molecules, including DNA, when exposed to fairly low levels of microwave. The physicist is right that our tissues are quite transparent to microwave, and not so transparent to most light. Plus, we wear clothes (at least, most of us do). If we actually survive a few billion years, while continuing to use cell phones, I'm sure evolution will lead to a "microwave tolerant" population, while killing off all others.

      May 22, 2011 at 08:38 | Report abuse |
  20. Rachel

    What about Wireless Headphones to that we use to listen audio from the computer or TV. My husbband is on theses at least 4 hours per day

    May 20, 2011 at 17:43 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Barry Black

      Not to worry. Wireless head phones don't transmit a RF signal only receive it. Now if your husband sits with his head up against the transmitter that's a different story.

      May 20, 2011 at 18:04 | Report abuse |
    • Rachel

      Thanks Barry Black!

      May 21, 2011 at 00:15 | Report abuse |
  21. Warning Label

    Glad to see this is being published by the mainstream media and not just some obscure medical journal. I am convinced that we will learn in a few years that there is definitely a connection. Limit your use immediately – use it for emergencies or on speaker and keep it away from your head! Just remember - it took years for the truth about tobacco to come out and those companies lobbied hard to keep the truth from being revealed. Same for the cell phone industry.

    May 20, 2011 at 17:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Friederike

    I agree with the people questioning whether a cell phone in your pocket might not cause other problems. And what about texting? "Brian in KS" I totally agree with you. Heavy cell phone use, tumor directly over his ear, hm.... It's time for some common sense here.
    Yet, as with everything else, some people might be more receptive/sensitive to the radiation than others.
    "treelover": where do you see the cause for the increase of brain cancer?

    May 20, 2011 at 17:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. cysted

    ive used the old suitcase and brick sized cell phones since 1989- ive developed a cyst -where exactly -in the right fomen of monroe duct are -were your saline pump is thats in the middle of your brain – electrical impulses and salt water and nerual tissues –basically if you ask me -the older phones prpbably cased this because of more emf rf fields – if you ask me in lamens terms what i think happens is a form of electralisis -platting – why if you study electricity /static fields and how electrolysis works – when one static field -the body -gets next to another – and are able to ground -and neutralise each other – cancel each other out . in an auqueus environment in acidic salt water i think with power grounding out alot over time micro scopically -your brain tissue shorts and fouls out – like mineral build up om a spark plug or on a car battery post. corrozion oxidation and electro plateing of "hard water deposits take shape -thus you get cycsts that can form into cancers .me i have a cyst in the right foremen of monroe duct in the middle of my right brain half causes fluid back up at times inter mittantly .so yep in my opinion cell phones are harmfull:} .

    May 20, 2011 at 17:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Paul Ronco

    >> Many will roll their eyes at this, scoffing at the precautionary principle on display here. Fair enough.

    Fair enough? How about short-sighted enough. The Romans would have laughed at lead in their plumbing, had they even known there might have been a risk. Us? We'll have no such excuse. I stay away from cellphones as much as possible; I don't even like them near my body.

    May 20, 2011 at 17:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Amish

    Get off the phone people! Read a book. If I hear one more insipid, inane, unnecessary conversation on a cell phone I'll go postal. If cell phones and the word "like" were taken away, 99% of the population couldn't communicate.

    May 20, 2011 at 18:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Celestial1

    Cellphone, wifi, cordless Dect phones, those curly lightbulbs whatever they are called..help me somebody, and LED light bulbs are all toxic to us. Technology will really be the death of us.

    May 20, 2011 at 18:04 | Report abuse | Reply
    • DB

      Spoken like a truly uninformed person. Please pray to "God Almighty" to save your soul!

      May 22, 2011 at 08:40 | Report abuse |
  27. sehtbw

    Dr Gupta, what about 4G phones and devices with WiFi connections? Does this not increase the impact the phone's level of radiation has on the brain?

    May 20, 2011 at 18:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. John

    I can't believe the irresponsibility of this article by this guy. He points out what he sees as a flaw in the study, implies that they are purposely hiding something –"which interestingly was available only online" –, and then goes on to bring up some anecdotal evidence that gives him pause about the study. Shame on you Gupta.

    May 20, 2011 at 18:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Jason

    Dr. Gupta did not say whether he asked the study authors for their response to the data in the appendix which would seem to fly in the face of their conclusions.

    Generally when people find details in large scientific studies that contradict the study's conclusions, they are not correctly interpreting the data. It happens in climate science all the time.

    May 20, 2011 at 18:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. M. Jamison, M.D.

    It is the inquelatgeal effect that makes the phone dangerous. You will find out when so many people are not here on May 22. Beware.

    May 20, 2011 at 18:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. Frank

    Can't discount the possibility. But first understand that all of these arguments about cancer and electromagnetic exposure are predicated on the assumption that bits and pieces of exposure throughout a human lifetime may lead to health complications like cancer. We can't even prove if this is true conclusively, so everyone agreeing on that, you can start to get some perspective on how hopeless it is to make these sorts of arguments. That said, I dare you to go estimate the amount of radiation you are exposed to when you go to the dentist and get an x-ray, or go open your microwave the *instant* it is finished cooking whatever's inside. You're going to quickly realize that even many, many, many hours of cell phone use are trumped by yearly x-rays at your local dentist, opening up that microwave , and lounging on the beach during a very sunny day. Overall, it is naive to pin brain cancer on a single activity that isn't even radiation intense to begin with, being RF and all. We need perspective when discussing matters like this, otherwise we reach conclusions without considering the reality of the situation, which is, as I've heard nuclear engineers say, radiation is everywhere.

    May 20, 2011 at 18:14 | Report abuse | Reply
    • DB

      Yet another truly uninformed person! May "God" have pity on your soul.

      May 22, 2011 at 08:42 | Report abuse |
  32. Watcher132

    What great news for the advertisers!

    May 20, 2011 at 18:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Scott

    Hold on a sec, I need a beer and a cigarette before reading this.

    May 20, 2011 at 18:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. Jim

    Gupta is good and I am sure this neurosurgeon is good at what he does too. But just because they are not experts in medicine does not mean they are experts in every field. Doctors all too often misunderstand science, statistics and how to interpret the data in studies and this is exactly what is happening in this report. The data Gupta uses to raise fears is the data that the experts who conducted the study produced; those same experts came to the conclusion that cellphones do not increase the risk of tumors or cancer.

    And side note... that solution inside the fake head is hardly compelling. Even if the radiation levels were comparable in a real human head, the radiation CANNOT COOK the brain as the neurosurgeon in the video says it does. The energy level of the photons is not high enough for that to happen. I don't go to a doctor to find out what is wrong with my car. And I do not go to a doctor to learn about electromagnetism!!!

    May 20, 2011 at 18:21 | Report abuse | Reply
    • DB

      You'd do well to do some research on your own.

      May 22, 2011 at 08:43 | Report abuse |
  35. deq

    Maybe it's not the radiation that causes the tumor, maybe it's the vibrating foreign object next to your ear drum; and maybe using any type of earpeice is worse. Have a good life.

    May 20, 2011 at 18:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. gavin kelleher

    I used a cell phone for 20 some years. I got a cancerous tumor in my inner ear. two surgerys later they discovered it was cancer. the third surgery ,they removed my ear cannal. I am now deaf in my right ear, and I feel it is due to constant use off cell phone.My first surgeon said he hadn"t seen anything like it in his 25 years of practice. Is there a safety device that can be placed on a phone? Or is the extra 50 cents too much?

    May 20, 2011 at 18:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. Annexian

    Imagine if "Asbestos" was a "New Miracle Science Material" that is Asbestos's uses had only been recently discovered?

    And there were huge industries, that btw were big advertisers on CNN and the rest of the Media and lodge brothers with the elites who owned most everything... You know, like the company managers that noticed the little black boys who's job was to jump up and down to pack it died within a year, then they made their reports and got either fired and discredited or they got a HUGE raise and just got to sit in a vacant office till they retired, no typewriter even... And they hadn't decided to trash their careers to speak out yet to confirm all the "Wild rumors and hurtful conspiracy theories that are totally unfounded..."

    Well, what DO you think Gupta's review would be?
    Really, what DO you think his review would be?

    May 20, 2011 at 18:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. Kristen Cobb

    Two weeks ago my husband and I testified in Augusta, Maine to get warning labels on cell phones. If it weren't for the questions that were raised by his doctor the day he was diagnosed with a brain tumor, we would have never made the cell phone connection. It is sad that we have to wait for the body count to collect before our government does anything. I tried to tell our state but they wouldn't listen. I am saying sorry to you if you are reading this and you know someone now or in the future that gets diagnosed with a brain tumor. It is a horrible illness to go through. Seeing what my husband went through was a living hell for both of us. Because I wouldn't want anyone else to go through the pain we have endured, I will continue to educate others until the day I am no longer here. Please for the love and sake of your family use a speaker phone or a headset. Never put a cell phone to your brain!

    May 20, 2011 at 18:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. Brooke

    "Fact is, they are more likely to lead to my early demise than cell phones." Gupta's funny!

    May 20, 2011 at 19:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. Padmanabham

    Convenience and Problems are two sides of the same coin.

    May 20, 2011 at 19:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. Gemma Todd

    Don't know what to say. My husband was diagnosed with a grade IV glio-multiforme on April 18. No obvious symptoms. Out
    of the blue he had an episode on his boat which sent us to the ER where a mass showed up on the CT scan. After a biopsy
    it was determined he had a glio tumor. He is now going through chemo and radiation. He has used a cell phone for as long as
    I can remember but mostly with an ear piece. According to the drs.. it (the tumor) is 4-6 months old. He is seeing the best at
    Emory (your group Sanjay) and we are really hopeful that between the chemo and radiation, we will put "Cleo" to rest. Anyone have any thoughts on adding Essaic tea to the mixture? Have heard positive results but maybe not so much for
    brain tumors.

    May 20, 2011 at 19:50 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Bobby

      My prayers are with you and your family.

      May 20, 2011 at 20:35 | Report abuse |
  42. MIchael

    What a nice video to scare the general public....thanks media!

    May 20, 2011 at 19:58 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Gregory D. MELLOTT

      Perhaps this is in the same realm as fearing God. The full nature of reality rules. We as miniscule creatures are given limited allowances. God help us precisely understand where the boundaries are and how they may perhaps be stretched.

      May 20, 2011 at 23:15 | Report abuse |
  43. Bobby

    Cigarettes have been proven bad for your health but people still smoke them! If the radiation from cellphones is proven to cause brain tumors people will still use them! 20 years from now when there is a major outbreak of gliomas people will still use them! Quit talking about it! It's he said, she said. And do we honestly believe that the FCC and the CTIA are going to tell you the truth about cellphone usage not being safe? Text me when you have a glioma the size of a golfball growing in your brain on the same side of your head that you hold your cellphone. Oh wait... I forgot... Bad things like that only happen to other people!

    May 20, 2011 at 20:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. Liz

    Most of us carry cell phones in our pockets. Does this also pose a risk for getting cancer somewhere else in your body?

    May 20, 2011 at 20:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. Luis

    Dear Dr. Gupta
    I am an Eletrical/Electronic Engineer with over 40 years experience. My expertise is measurements of any kind. I have worked with Medical products as well as RF equipment.
    As you said, cell phones emit electromagnetic energy in the frequency range of 900MHz to 1.9GHz. As far as I can find, power levels are between, 0.2 to 4 watts. Some of this power will be reflected, some will be absorbed by the skin, bone and brain tissue. The higher the frequency, the smaller the penetration depth. This is why microwave ovens operate around 300MHz so that they can heat up a large chunk of meat on the inside.
    The net result is whatever power is absorbed by the tissue, it will be converted to heat and therefore a corresponding increase of temperature.
    It seems to me that it would be very simple to measure the temperature rise on a simulated brain caused by a cell phone. The question then is how does this temperature rise compare with say, if you had a high fever? We do know that high fever over a prolonged time causes brain damage.
    If you hold a 1W resistor dissipating 1 watt, it will not burn you since the volume spreads out the heat. A smaller resistor will go up in flames. I have not measured the heating effect of cell phone radiation but it does not seem it would be very difficult to do. Please contact me if you feel I can help.

    May 20, 2011 at 22:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. Gregory D. MELLOTT

    I tried an earpiece and it made my ear's skin very sore by being push into a shape that was not natural to it. Perhaps they need to sell a silicone earpiece adapter that can take any shape like some earplugs do. Anyway, the surface needs to be alot softer for me to deal with it for very long. One is not likely going to be able to put it on quick as you need it, in my experience. A type that does that easier might help also. Maybe a flip down on something like a eyeglasses' earpiece.

    May 20, 2011 at 22:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. Ces

    Not sure why they don't do a study comparing left handed vs right handed, and where they get the tumor in the brain. between cellphone users and not users. A diff-in-diff. Easy to do, and would conclusively nail down whether cell phone usage causes brain tumors. It would also control the "we don't have enough time series" issue.

    May 20, 2011 at 22:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. Robert L Jr

    Thank You for easing us into the water. It's hard for me to understand why people are so naive. Keith R knows... We all know. Our free choice makes another rich.

    How about this. I believe "Cell Technology" is to blame for my diagnosis of MS. I can feel my phone ring in my nervous system before it actually does. It even ranges with certain models.

    Anyone wanna talk about that?

    Again thank you and it's my wish we all wise up.

    Robert of So.Cal.

    May 20, 2011 at 23:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. Robert L Jr

    Bobby! You're awesome.

    May 20, 2011 at 23:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. Karin

    Dear Dr. Gupta,
    Thank you for your cell phone segment. Do you know whether there have been any studies on the cordless home phones? I would be interested in learning what doctors and experts have to say about these phones.


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