June 1st, 2011
09:58 AM ET
Cell phones and cancer: Should you be worried?
By now you may have heard that cell phones are "possibly carcinogenic to humans." That's according to the World Health Organization and something some scientists have suspected for a while. But now that it's coming from the WHO, those who have questioned the safety of cell phones have significant international support.
But why "possibly"? What is that supposed to mean? The latest judgment from the WHO sounds a little wishy-washy, and that's because of the inconclusive nature of the scientific studies on this subject.
The available research on the health effects of cell phone is retrospective. That means scientists are looking into the past at the association between people's behavior and brain health, rather than designing an experiment that will require a controlled setting. Researchers can't control retrospectively how much any individual uses a cell phone, or regulate other environmental factors that might be detrimental to brain health, or even know how far away from the head different people hold their cell phones. Remember that the amount of radiation you receive is related to distance-squared from the source, so the further away your phone is physically, the safer you would be.
In a closer-to-ideal experiment regarding cell phone use, scientists would be able to monitor exact cellphone use of particular users over a given time period under controlled conditions, and track their health as well. That would be a prospective study. They would look at particular groups of users - those with high, medium and low usage - and compare health effects. They would know who has what kind of phone, make sure that person kept the same phone during the entire duration of the experiment, and figure out a way to standardize the phone's distance from the head.
The Interphone study, the largest scientific look at the cell phone health question to date, is a retrospective study. It also is partly industry-funded, and while the WHO's International Agency for Research on Cancer coordinates it, several researchers who analyze the data receive money from the mobile phone industry.
In May 2010, Interphone published results indicating no connection between cancer and phones. But it defined "highest" exposure levels as using a mobile phone half an hour a day over a 10-year period. In the appendix of the study, published only online, the risk of developing a glioma brain tumor about doubles if you are using a cell phone over a 10-year period.
In general, the Interphone study has many flaws. Among them, participants self-reported how much they used their phones, and memory isn't always accurate. Also, Interphone does not include children and young adults, who could be at increased risk of brain disease from cell phone radiation. Interphone also fails to address cordless phone use. But the bottom line is that while it doesn't prove with absolute certainty that anything causes anything, it is still a reason to pause and think about your cell phone use.
Also, in February, a National Institutes of Health study found that cell phone use is associated with increased brain cell activity, although no one really knows what that means for longterm health.
As you can see, there are a lot of different factors involved here, and it's hard to know what to make of this data. CNN's own Dr. Sanjay Gupta says he uses a wired earpiece when talking on a cell phone. If you are concerned about cell phone safety, continue to check in with CNNHealth.com and "The Chart" for the latest reporting on medical and scientific studies and keep in mind, if leading neurosurgeons are using wired ear pieces, it may be a good idea to do the same. Here are some tips for minimizing cell phone radiation.
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.
I used to be able to find good information from your content.
Great article, I liked it very much congratulations. 31058357 4740500
I couldn’t refrain from commenting. Exceptionally well written!
You should take part in a contest for one of the best websites on the web. I'm going to highly recommend this website!
Way cool! Some very valid points! I appreciate you penning this post plus the rest of the site is extremely good.
I’m impressed, I must say. Seldom do I encounter a blog that’s equally educative and interesting, and without a doubt, you have hit the nail on the head. The issue is something which not enough folks are speaking intelligently about. I'm very happy that I came across this during my hunt for something relating to this.
I was able to find good information from your articles.
After I initially left a comment I seem to have clicked the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and now each time a comment is added I get 4 emails with the same comment. There has to be a means you are able to remove me from that service? Cheers!
After I initially left a comment I seem to have clicked the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and from now on whenever a comment is added I receive four emails with the exact same comment. There has to be a way you can remove me from that service? Thank you!
Having read this I believed it was very enlightening. I appreciate you spending some time and effort to put this content together. I once again find myself spending a lot of time both reading and commenting. But so what, it was still worth it!
bookmarked!!, I love your website!
Hi, I do think this is a great site. I stumbledupon it 😉 I will come back once again since I book marked it. Money and freedom is the greatest way to change, may you be rich and continue to help other people.
Your style is so unique in comparison to other people I have read stuff from. I appreciate you for posting when you have the opportunity, Guess I will just bookmark this site.
You are so awesome! I do not think I have read a single thing like this before. So wonderful to find another person with unique thoughts on this subject. Really.. thank you for starting this up. This web site is something that is needed on the web, someone with some originality!
You've made some really good points there. I looked on the internet for additional information about the issue and found most people will go along with your views on this site.
I like it when individuals come together and share ideas. Great website, continue the good work!
Oh my goodness! Amazing article dude! Many thanks, However I am encountering issues with your RSS. I don’t know why I can't join it. Is there anyone else getting the same RSS issues? Anyone who knows the answer can you kindly respond? Thanx!!
Right here is the right web site for anyone who would like to understand this topic. You realize so much its almost tough to argue with you (not that I personally would want to…HaHa). You definitely put a brand new spin on a topic that's been written about for years. Wonderful stuff, just excellent!
I was able to find good info from your blog articles.
Good article. I'm facing a few of these issues as well..
I love it when folks come together and share views. Great site, stick with it!
Spot on with this write-up, I absolutely believe this site needs far more attention. I’ll probably be back again to read through more, thanks for the advice!
I blog often and I really thank you for your content. Your article has really peaked my interest. I will take a note of your website and keep checking for new details about once per week. I subscribed to your Feed as well.
That is a really good tip especially to those new to the blogosphere. Brief but very precise info… Many thanks for sharing this one. A must read post!
When I initially left a comment I appear to have clicked on the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and now whenever a comment is added I receive 4 emails with the exact same comment. Is there a means you can remove me from that service? Appreciate it!