Author Julie Casper, L. Ac., is a hTMA clinician and educator, she works with patients across the U.S. and internationally. In addition, she supports health professionals who are interested in adding clinical hTMA to their practice. Contact:

Update: 17 February 2018

Cell Phones and EMFs

Author: Julie Casper, L. Ac.

With more than 4 billion cell phone users worldwide, the potential for an epidemic of brain cancer related disease has lead experts to call for "precautionary principle" actions. These include changes in cell phone designs, usage warnings, and an actual ban on use by children.

  1. Experts call for a ban on cell phone use by children
  2. The 10-year International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) Interphone Study
  3. Scientific Research Skepticism
  4. Bio Initiative Report
  5. Simple Precautions for Cell Phone Users
  6. The Debate is Over. Researchers conclude wireless radiation causes cancer.
  7. Resources

child with cell phone

Children are more at risk than adults from the effects of electromagnetic radiation (EMFs). Experts are worried about the possibility of harmful effects from mobile device use on developing brain and nervous systems of children.

Experts call for a ban on cell phone use by children

Children are more at risk than adults from the effects of most toxic exposures, including chemicals and EMF radiation from mobile phones and other wireless devices. Experts are worried about the negative developmental consequences of EMF radiation on a child's vunerable brain and nervous system.

The 10-year IARC Interphone Study

The largest study on the risk of brain tumors in relation to mobile phone use was completed in February 2012. The 10 year research project by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) focused on four types of tumors in the tissues that most easily absorb EMF/RF radiation emitted by mobile devices. The tumors include tumors of the brain (glioma and meningioma) parotid gland and acoustic nerve (schwannoma). The objective was to determine whether mobile phone use increases the risk of brain tumors and whether the EMF|RF radiation emitted by mobile phones is capable of producing tumors.

The final results the INTERPHONE study have been widely reported (especially by alternative health media) to suggest that mobile phone use increases the incidence of brain cancer. This was misleading to their readers, and gives supporters of wireless-tech more dismissive fuel to extend the endless debate — and delay needed action. Here is the study's actual conclusion:

The research subjects were individuals who had used mobile phones for 10 years or more. Overall, no increase in risk of either glioma or meningioma was observed in association with use of mobile phones. There were suggestions of an increased risk of glioma, and much less so meningioma, at the highest exposure levels, for ipsilateral exposures and, for glioma, and for tumors in the temporal lobe. However, biases and errors limit the strength of the conclusions we can draw from these analyses and prevent a causal interpretation.

The report's actual conclusion doesn't sound very dramatic. To grab eyeballs, reporters may have tried to give it a little more shock value. But, the report also downplays the fact that "regular use," or what the report authors call, highest exposure levels of 1,640 hours or more (about 30 minutes per day over 10 years) of a cell phone by adults can increase the risk of glioma by 40%. And, that tumors were more likely to occur on the side of the head most used for calling. I don't know about you, but these statements seem to contradict their previous statement of, "no increase in risk."

Conflicts of interest and biases exist in virtually every field of medicine, particularly with drugs and devices. It is simply no longer possible to believe much of the published clinical data, or to rely on the judgment of trusted physicians or authoritative medical guidelines. I take no pleasure in this conclusion, which I reached slowly and reluctantly over my two decades as an editor of The New England Journal of Medicine. Marcia Angell - Former Editor-in-Chief New England Journal of Medicine

David Carpenter, Bio Initiative Report coeditor and Director of the Institute for Health and the Environment at University at Albany, says that "While this study is not perfect, the risks documented in it must be taken seriously as a warning to limit cell phone use, to restrict the use of cell phones, especially by children, and to call on manufacturers for redesign of cell phones and PDAs. It should also serve as a warning to governments that the deployment of new wireless technologies may bring risks to the public that are widespread, involuntary and increase long-term health care costs."

The INTERPHONE study appears in the International Journal of Epidemiology. Thirteen teams from countries around the world combined their results. Michael Kundi, head of the Institute of Environmental Health, Medical University of Vienna says of the study "Authors emphasize that no increased risk was detected overall. But this is not unexpected. No exposures to carcinogens that cause solid tumors like brain cancer or lung cancers, for example from tobacco and asbestos have ever been shown to significantly increase cancer risk in people with such short duration of exposure. The latency period for brain cancer is 15-30 years."

The patients included in this study were 30-59 years old. Young and old were excluded, but may have contributed meaningful data to conclusions. And, the use of cordless phones was neglected in the analysis. Radiation from cordless phones can be as high as mobile phones, so excluding cordless phones would result in an actual underestimate of the EMF radiation risk.

The INTERPHONE findings lend support to previous studies from Sweden's Orebro University Hospital, the University of Utah and UC Berkeley, where meta-analyses have all reported increased risk of glioma when combining results of brain tumor studies.

Lennart Hardell, Orebro University, Sweden concludes "The final INTERPHONE results support findings of several research groups, that continuing use of a mobile phone increases risk of brain cancer. We would not expect to see substantially increased brain tumor risk for most cancer-causing agents except in the longer term (10 year and longer)."

The greatest, most insidious risk of cell phone use is electromagnetic fields of non-ionizing radiation (EMFs). What makes this insidious is our predisposition to dismiss it altogether because it is hard to take seriously a menace that is invisible. We are all prone to a, what I can't see, feel, taste, smell or hear can't hurt me, mentality. David Katz, M.D. Disease-Proof: The Truth About What Makes Us Well

Scientific Research Skepticism

Scientific research has a somewhat tarnished reputation today. The reasons include flawed study design, corruption by powerful influences, bias, conflicts of interest, and the pressure to get ‘actionable results’ too quickly. But research scientists deserve our empathy. Because things always change. So this Don Quixote quest for scientific certainty is elusive, if not impossible. Curiosity is human nature. To search for truth (science), and to desire the security of certainty is only natural. It just isn't realistic.

To compound the who-to-believe problem, journalists who report on medical issues usually are not trained in medicine. So intentional or not, they can misinterpret results, even if it is a well-meaning attempt to simplify the science so their readers can understand it. Because of this, it is important to verify our information sources. Just because we read it on the internet, doesn't mean it is true.

Bio Initiative Report

The Bioinitiave Report provides rationale for a biologically-based Public Exposure Standard for Electromagnetic Fields (EMFs, ELF and RF). The 610 page report documents bio-effects, adverse health effects and public health conclusions about impacts of non-ionizing radiation. Public health warnings were raised on possible risks from cell phones and other exposures to electromagnetic fields (EMF). It advised against the continuing deployment of new sources of EMF|RF radiation from wireless technologies before health studies confirm that basic safety standards are met. And, the report calls for new biologically-based public safety limits to deal with emerging risks from new technologies. It is a commendable benchmark, promoting good science and public health policy planning.

cell phone precautions brochure

Download: Cell Phone Tips

Simple Precautions for Cell Phone Users

Reports appearing in mainstream media promoting the notion that there is a lack of scientific consensus on the health effects of mobile phone use are deceptive.

In a 2009 review for the Journal of Clinical Oncology, Joel Moskowitz, director of the Center for Family and Community Health at the University of California-Berkeley, parsed cellphone studies based on the funding source and quality of the science.

Moskowitz found that low-quality and industry-funded studies tended not to associate mobile phone use with a heightened risk of tumors, while high-quality and foundation or public funded studies usually found the opposite result. "This is very much like studying tobacco back in the 1950s," he says, "The industry has co-opted many researchers."

What the cell phone industry doesn't want you to know about radiation concerns.

Excerpt from an interview with former senior White House health advisor and epidemiologist, Dr. Devra Davis.

Question: With such an ubiquitous product, so ingrained in our lives, it's difficult now to imagine living without them. What are some basic recommendations for how people can limit their risks when using cellphones?

Answer: First of all, get in the habit of putting it on airplane mode, except when you want to be interrupted. Get your life back. Get your private time back. Say no to being on-call 24/7 unless you are an emergency responder. Use a speakerphone, use a headset. Get in the habit of never putting the phone next to your brain or body unless it's a true emergency. When the signal is weak, the phone is working more, you drain the battery faster, so only use a phone when the signal is weak in a true emergency.

People have got to realize that if it's a true emergency, then you can use it with a weak signal. But otherwise the weaker the signal, the more radiation it's putting into you. And that's one of the reasons why in Sweden and Israel researchers found that where people are using phones in rural areas their risk of brain cancer is higher than in urban areas. We think because the radiation is being dumped into their bodies more.


The Debate is Over. Researchers conclude wireless radiation causes cancer.

The National Association for Children and Safe Technology is taking action following recently published studies indicating there is sufficient evidence that exposure to wireless radiation (EMFs) causes cancer. Wireless routers and devices such as tablets, laptops, baby monitors and mobile phones all emit EMF|RF radiation. NACST is calling on children's health organizations worldwide to make the issue of children's health and exposure to wireless radiation in educational settings an immediate priority.

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