iPhone on desk in front of ocean sunset

Do Cell Phones & WiFi Cause Cancer? Maybe

[toc]It’s easy to become fixated on a specific characteristic of food – like whether or not it’s organic – and focus on that daily, while ignoring the elephant in the room.

Is that WiFi router in your living room the elephant you really should be focusing on?

Or maybe you need to consider that shiny new iPhone which is crammed in your jean pocket, right next to your testicles or ovaries. Many girls, especially while running, put it between their bra and breast. Some keep it there all day long and assume it’s completely safe… is it?

We have already provided you with the science to show you how organic food is a scam in many regards, because 95% of all pesticides have half-lives between 0.6 and 29 days.

Take a given food and say the average half-life of the pesticides was 7 days. This is how much of the pesticide residue would have been degraded and broken down after each 7 day period…

amount left after each half life

5 half-lives = 5 x 7 days = 35 days = only 3% remaining

Since freezing pauses the breakdown of pesticides, it means your frozen food being organic should actually be highest priority. For dried items like nuts and crackers, those should take a backseat.

Even if it’s just a little bit, does that mean eating pesticides is good for you?

No, we’re not suggesting that.

grilled chicken breastWhat it does mean is that there are probably much bigger potential problems in your diet you should be focusing on, such as carcinogenic compounds which can form during certain cooking methods. Particularly with grilling, frying, and high temperature baking.

Which is funny, because all of the “health” restaurants these days love to peddle grilled chicken and veggies.

The potentially harmful compounds which can form with grilling and other high heat methods are known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and acrylamide. Some of these are classified as Group 1 carcinogens by the World Health Organization and the US government’s Report on Carcinogens classifies several as being “Reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen.”

It sounds like those should take higher priority in your diet over USDA certified organic or non GMO vs. GMO foods. At least for now, given the research to date about each of these topics.

We here at Superfoodly are much more concerned about recent research suggesting radio frequency (RF) dangers. On a relative basis, any health concerns about non-organic and GMOs takes a distant back seat.

That router in your living room – as well the WiFi mode on your iPhone or Samsung Galaxy – operate at a radio frequency which is just a tad higher than almost every cellular signal. In cellular mode, you’re utilizing frequencies right below WiFi.

For these reasons, typically it’s best to talk about both WiFi and mobile frequencies together, since they are so similar. Yes, their signal strengths can differ, but both are concerning nonetheless.

Do cell phones emit radiation?

nuclear explosionYes, both mobile phones and WiFi emitting devices generate what’s called non-ionizing radiation.

Ionizing means there is enough energy for electrons to be freed from atoms or molecules when the radiation hits it (becoming ionized). The difference with non-ionizing radiation is that there is not enough energy to do that.

That’s a good thing. We’re not talking the type of radiation you get from a nuclear bomb.

It’s the higher frequencies in the electromagnetic spectrum – like X rays and gamma rays – which are ionizing to just about every type of material (1). Cell phones are way lower.

examples of ionizing and non-ionizing radiation
By Spazturtle (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Though it is worth noting that different atoms and molecules will ionize at different energies.

For that reason, the exact spectrum at which radiation becomes ionizing vs. non-ionizing is not always a black and white answer, at least in the broadest sense if you’re talking about all types of matter.

Since they’re so close, why aren’t there any health scares about AM or FM radio causing cancer? Because your car radio is only receiving the signal, it’s not transmitting. The purported health dangers happen at the source of where radio waves are transmitted.

Cell phones and WiFi devices receive AND transmit.

If every person had a FM transmitter which could broadcast a signal for miles, this same conversation would be happening with those, too. But as consumers, we only receive AM/FM/SiriusXM satellite radio signals and are not broadcasting any. Since they’re only receivers we’re using, they’re perfectly safe.

A particle energy of less than 10 electronvolts (eV) is considered the definition for non-ionizing, according to the FCC (2). Water molecules (which is what your body mostly is) take a lot more energy than that to ionize, around 33 eV according to the EPA (3).

So it’s completely accurate and fair to claim that your cell phone’s radiation is non-ionizing to humans, based on human biology.

But what if we add titanium to the equation?

broken tib fib X ray with intermarrow nail implanted
How do things like this affect your body’s radiation absorption? That’s largely unknown. This X-ray comes from a writer here at Superfoodly who has several metal implants.

Insignificant trace amounts aside, titanium is not naturally present in the human body but many medical implants, especially orthopedic, make use of a metal alloys.

Reportedly, as low as 7 eV can ionize titanium (4) (5). That’s below the 10 eV which the FCC considers being safe and non-ionizing.

Do surgical implants in your body – such as a metal plate in your jaw or an intermarrow nail/rod in your femur – affect that answer? Or how about your eyeglass frames which are made of metal?

This is a topic which doesn’t have a great deal of research about it. Scientific opinions exist, yes. But go try finding clinical studies about whether there are any potential EMF side effects of metal bone implants or earrings and other jewelry.

A study published in 2012 involved six dead human bodies. Researchers studied the effects on eight different orthopedic implants the cadavers had; metal plates, total knee replacements, and hip prosthesis. In addition to cell phone bands, they used TV and radio waves.

After 6 minutes of exposure, there was a “slight induced tension (up to 1.1 V)” which was observed, but it was said to “appear too low to induce any biological effect” (6).

Is six minutes of exposure on eight dead bodies the best human model?

We would love to see a study of say, a few dozen living men and women who each have a metal rod in their femur, and who store their cell phone in their front pocket all day long. Do cell phones emit radiation when not in use? Yes, because they are constantly maintaining connection to the base tower, assuming they are turned on and not in flight mode.

That’s why studies involving storage in the pocket – and holding the phone an inch above your ovaries or crown jewels as you text – might be way more important than brain cancer concerns.

Texting and Instagram seem to be the more common use of mobile phones these days, versus holding a Motorola bricks next to your head in the era when phones were actually used for talking. And what about sleeping with a cell phone under pillow or near head? That’s another more recent trend you couldn’t do in the early days with a big fat Nokia, Sanyo or Ericsson.

In terms of any effect they may or may not have on bone implants, it’s not fair to pick on the cell phone companies about that lack of data, as it’s really the medical device companies who ultimately are responsible for testing. After all, they are the ones designing the surgical implants, which are intended to be compatible with modern daily life.

Even setting aside biological effects with or without electromagnetic fields (EMF), the question of whether something like a metal hip implant is 100% harmless long term is a topic in and of itself. The consensus is that they are safe, but in the same breath, researchers have also said (7):

“The elevated metal body content found in the body fluids and remote organs of patients with metal implants is a matter of fact, but its clinical significance needs further elucidation. The effects of metal particles on bone cells and bone resorption is a crucial issue for orthopaedic implant durability but, again, available data are still incomplete.”

So if even those questions still remain unanswered, human clinical studies about whether there are EMF side effects from orthopedic implants be a long time coming!

Those circumstances aside, if you’re talking about normal human bodies and cellular biology, it is 100% true that cell phones only emit non-ionizing radiation. That’s a good thing relative to the ionizing form!

Harmful effects of mobile phones

Just because cell phones emit non-ionizing radiation, does that mean they’re safe? Can non-ionizing radiation cause cancer?

modern microwave ovenUltraviolet (UV) and microwave ovens are also forms on non-ionizing radiation. Obviously, neither of those is always safe, as both can have biological side effects in living organisms without proper safety precautions. No one debates skin cancer from UV exposure.

And microwaves? Your appliance which goes by the same name operates at 2400 MHz (aka 2.4 GHz) and yes, that too is a frequency which is non-ionizing radiation.

If that number rings a bell, it’s because WiFi uses the same frequency as microwave ovens… 2400 MHz. Ditto for cordless phones (landline cordless), Bluetooth, garage door openers, wireless home alarm systems, and even baby monitors.

WiFi vs. cell frequencies

wifi routerWhile all WiFi uses the same frequency, cell phones operate at different radio frequencies depending on the type, carrier, and country you’re in (8). In the United States…

Your Verizon Wireless LTE 4G may use band number 13, which is the 700 MHz Block C. Their XLTE may be band number 4, 1700/2100 MHz AWS.

T-Mobile uses band 4, which is 1700/2100 MHz AWS frequency as their main LTE in most markets. They’re also building out “Extended Range LTE” in the 700 MHz Lower Block A.

Sprint uses band 25, which is the 1900 MHz frequency, as their primary LTE 4G band, They’re also building out a 2,500 MHz network (LTE Plus) which will be just above the WiFi frequency.

AT&T Wireless has a number of bands they use for LTE 4G. Band numbers 12/17, which is the frequency range of 700 MHz Lower B/C, is their main LTE. They have others active and being built out for more bandwidth, ranging from 850 to 2300 MHz. The latter is right below WiFi frequency.

“In a nutshell, cellular uses the frequencies right below and more recently, right above the 2,400 MHz used by WiFi.”

As far as the names labels like 4G (fourth generation) and LTE (Long-Term Evolution) these definitions can vary by carrier and country. They’re great for marketing, but they don’t matter in relation to any potential health issues related to cell phone use.

Why is everything 2.4 GHz?

baby Asian boy
If you’re using a wireless baby monitor, it probably transmits at around 2.4 GHz.

Whether you’re talking about that exact frequency or the cell spectrums above and below, why were these chosen? Was it because they were deemed the safest?

There weren’t a lot of options.

By the time consumer electronics came into play, most of the airwaves were already allocated for TV, radio, military, and so forth. Not much was left for unlicensed gadgets.

One which was available was 2.45 GHZ. That’s what microwave ovens had been using since 1947. The FCC figured it would be the perfect frequency to piggyback off of for consumer gizmos and gadgets, since it wouldn’t interfere with neighboring frequencies being used for licensed purposes.

To further separate it from the other frequencies, they added a little above and below. That’s why the industrial, scientific and medical or ISM radio bands are technically 2,400 to 2,483.5 Mhz.

WiFi was a non-ISM use of the same frequencies. It didn’t even come into existence until about 20 years ago, in 1997, with 802.11b (9). There’s also 802.11a which is 5.2 GHz, but that’s used less. Most WiFi and other transmitting gadgets use 2.4 GHz.

If there are legitimate safety issues, does this mean that 2.4 GHz is unsafe or less safe than similar frequencies?

No. But it should be understood that this frequency was chosen decades ago, largely out of convenience and necessity (what was still available and worked). The choice was not based on decades of sophisticated large-scale human safety tests and clinical studies.

Since radio communication frequencies were considered safe for humans in the sense of their broadcast usage, effects on health presumably weren’t the foremost concern back then. You can bet no one was asking if a cell phone in a bra causes breast cancer, as just the idea making a device that small was unfathomable in 1947, when the ISM bands were originally allocated.

Plus, options for sophisticated medical tests and research – like what we can do today – were not nearly as robust in those days.

Can a TV remote cause cancer?

closeup photo of TV remoteYour TV remote does not use the 2.4 GHz or the 5.2 GHz frequencies. Nor any other radio frequency for that matter.

What type of electromagnetic radiation is used in a TV remote is infrared light. Just like regular visible light, infrared only travels until it’s obstructed by something. That’s why you have to point the remote directly at the TV or cable box in order for it to work.

Your actual TV is detecting a flash of light from the remote, which is not visible to the human eye. It’s not trying to detect a radio wave which would be blasted in every direction and travel through walls and bodies.

Are there harmful effects of infrared waves? There’s no evidence of that. Only when concentrated infrared is used to create heat do health concerns arise. Your TV remote is completely safe and there’s no evidence to suggest it could cause cancer.

Cook dinner with your WiFi router?

frozen food aisle at supermarketSo why can a microwave cook a turkey dinner in a matter of minutes, but your WiFi router can’t do the same?

The oven has around 1,000 watts of power output taking place, inside. Your WiFi device may be putting out 0.1 to 0.5 watt. That’s 2,000 to 10,000 times less radiation than a microwave oven.

Such a low level of exposure is believed to be safe, yet it’s totally understandable why many people ask the question…

“Even if it’s not considered dangerous in such low levels, how can that be good for your health, especially over the long haul with constant exposure from many devices?”

How do you get cancer from a cell phone? If it is occurring, it is completely unknown what the exact biological processes would be that are triggering DNA mutations which might lead to tumors.

What is known, in fact it’s a law of physics, is how far radiation travels through air or even void space. If this disease is happening, it would likely be the emitted radiation which is causing it.

In other words, no knows how RF causes cancer (if it does). But at least we know how radiation travels.

The good news is that whether it’s WiFi or cell phone radiation, the strength of it decreases with square of the distance between the emitting device and yourself (inverse-square law).

In layman speak, as Trump would say, the amount of radiation decreases bigly as you move away from the source.

This table puts that into perspective. This formula hold true regardless of the type of radio wave you’re measuring.

How far does cell phone radiation travel?

Distance Radiation Amount Radiation Percentage
n (starting point of measurement) 1 100%
2n 1/4 25%
3n 1/9 11.11%
4n 1/16 6.25%
5n 1/25 4%
6n 1/36 2.78%
7n 1/49 2%
8n 1/64 1.56%
9n 1/81 1.23%
10n 1/100 1%

The starting point (n) can be however far away from the source you make your first measurement.

Let’s say n = 1 inch away from your phone. That’s where you make your first radiation measurement.

inverse square law for how much radiation there is by distanceAt 10x that distance (10 inches) the amount of radiation would be 99% less concentrated than it was at 1 inch.

The same holds true with how far WiFi radiation and similar sources will travel. They spread fast.

How to protect yourself from cell phone radiation is simple, if you put adequate space between it and yourself. See our 10 easy tips below for how to avoid most radiation exposure.

Back to zapping your Bagel Bites…

In a microwave, all of the waves are being bombarded to the center of the oven. That’s why they are able to cook food, even making a potato explode.

But due to how much radiation decreases by distance, it would take a lot of WiFi routers and/or phones, setup in a way to concentrate their signals, in order to pop some popcorn!

WiFi vs. cell phone radiation

radiation symbolLet’s say for a moment you do not use WiFi on a laptop or iPad while it’s sitting on your lap. Ignore the end user device, because you can control that usage.

Let’s talk about the WiFi base station.

That’s something you can’t control. Anywhere you go, whether it is Starbucks, a room in a hotel, an elementary school, or just about anywhere else public, you will be in the presence of WiFi routers.

And because commercial buildings involve liberal use of steel and concrete, they typically need a higher density of wireless access points than what you would need for coverage in a typical timber-framed home.

How does the environmental exposure to these WiFi routers compare with more direct exposure to cell phones and WiFi devices, which are pressed right up against your body?

Thanks to the inverse-square law, being a room with a WiFi router should not be major concern, or at least not the biggest worry.

While it appears to have since been deleted, using the internet archive you can pull up an article from a decade ago – December 2006 – which was published by The Times UK (10).

Prior to its merger with another bureaucratic arm in 2013, the UK’s Health Protection Agency (HPA) was a government body whose mission is self-explanatory. In The Times article, they quote a Dr. Michael Clark of the HPA who had this to say:

“When we have conducted measurements in schools, typical exposures from wi-fi are around 20 millionths of the international guideline levels of exposure to radiation. As a comparison, a child on a mobile phone receives up to 50 per cent of guideline levels. So a year sitting in a classroom near a wireless network is roughly equivalent to 20 minutes on a mobile. If wi-fi should be taken out of schools, then the mobile phone network should be shut down, too — and FM radio and TV, as the strength of their signals is similar to that from wi-fi in classrooms.”

How much radiation comes from a WiFi router sounds to be the least concerning, as long as it’s not right next to you.

It seems like the radiation given off by a WiFi device on your crotch should be the weightier issue. Likewise for the cell phone next to your head, in your lap, or shoved between the boobs and bra as many women do. Because if they’re cancer causes, the concern doesn’t seem to be from distant sources like a router antenna or cell tower.

In that same article, they provide rebuttals by the scientific and technical director of the lobby group Powerwatch. Alasdair Philip stated:

“Electromagnetic radiation exposure guidelines in the UK are designed to protect against gross heating effects. They are not meant to protect against long-term exposure to low levels of pulsing microwaves, such as laptops emit when downloading. We believe that these interfere with the body’s own normal internal electrical and electro-chemical signaling systems, leading to serious health problems, and growing children may be more affected than adults, whose cells are not changing as rapidly.”

Is Philips right? As if concerns for grown men and women aren’t enough, is WiFi safe for babies and children?

WiFi has only been around since 1997 and there are fewer health studies specifically about it. For those reasons, it might be best to consider the cell phone radiation facts and cancer studies. They may not be an apples to apples, but their frequencies are close and they’ve been in use much longer.

Do cell phones cause cancer?

brain tumor in young person
MRI of astrocytoma tumor growth. Patient was a teenager at time of diagnosis (born in 1988).

The industry-standard response is no, because even though they emit radiation, it’s non-ionizing radiation. But as pointed out:

1. Threshold for “non-ionizing” differs by atom and molecule

While it’s true that those normally found in humans are non-ionizing, there is the question of artificial implants made of metals. Plus, how about metal glasses and others foreign materials which may be next to both the phone and our body? Are any of those at risk of being ionized?

2. Non-ionizing radiation doesn’t automatically imply safety

old woman with wrinkles and sun damage

The non-ionizing radiation in your microwave oven might be a bad example, because to re-create that effect using communication devices would require an intentional and elaborate act. But natural UV and near UV light are forms of non-ionizing radiation and look at the biological effect they have on skin.

How cell phones cause brain cancer, if it’s happening, would be due to their non-ionizing radiation and the biological effects it might be having on cell behavior. Changes in cell behavior from RF radiation have been observed in some research, but whether or not those changes are causing tumors is currently unknown.

For example, in the area closest to the antenna, increased brain glucose metabolism has been observed after 50 minutes of exposure (11). Since this was “significantly higher for on than off conditions” it would suggest the increase was not due to merely holding or pressing of a device against the ear or head.

3. Cancers can take decades to form

Have or had breast cancer? Before even progressing to the point it can be detected, the initial DNA mutation which caused it is estimated to have taken place 6 to 8 years earlier (12).

Primary malignant brain tumors can be even slower. Radiation-induced brain tumors are estimated to take anywhere from 10 to 30 years to form, some claim as long as 40 years (13).

In the US, it wasn’t until the late 90’s until cell phones were affordable enough for everyone. We really only have about 20 years now of saturated market penetration.

Of course it is true that in the roughly two decades prior to that – as early as the 80’s – handheld cell phones were available (and car phones were available even earlier). However their use was prevalent among a very niche demographic of society… mostly by folks with money.

Even if you could afford the dollars per minute of talk time, how much you used it would have been limited by technology.

The Ameritrach DynaTAC 8000X was the first US 1G mobile phone in the US, launched in 1983 (14). It only had 35 minutes of battery life and a whopping 10 hour charge time!

Famous cases of glioblastoma and similar

Johnnie CochraneSuper lawyer Johnnie Cochrane was known to be a major user of these “portable car phones” since their earliest days. He died in 2005, at age 67, from brain cancer (glioblastoma) which was diagnosed two years prior.

Before his death, he allegedly questioned if his heavy mobile phone use caused the cancer. In a posthumous CNN interview with family and friends, Cochrane’s widow reported still using her cell phone “on a regular basis, every day” but clarified how she used it, in what she believed to be a safer manner (15):

“I use a cell phone, but I always use an earpiece. You know, it’s the antenna for the cell phone that is the source for the microwave energy. And as Dr. Gupta said, you know, that energy is directly proportional, actually, to the square of how close you hold it to your brain. So, you know, I think the safe practice is to use an earpiece so that you keep the microwave antenna away from your head.”

The 3rd longest serving senator in U.S. history is another example. Ted Kennedy died at age 77, from a malignant brain tumor in his left parietal lobe. There have been accusations of his cell phone use playing a part, but as with Cochrane, there is not proof.

Movie critic Roger Ebert, fashion designer Yves St. Laurent, Beau Biden (VP Biden’s son), and many other celebrities could be cited as those who have been struck with these rare types of brain cancer.

The head of the California Brain Tumor Association publishes a list of some 300+ bigwigs from business, sports, and show biz who have succumbed to brain cancer (16).

For these names, is correlation being mixed up with causation? If it was raining outside when 300+ celebs had a heart attack, is it fair to blame the rain for it?

To answer that question, you really would have to compare statistics among the population at large.

Yes, it is true that the rich and famous were using mobile phones earlier and more often, before their usage became affordable for the masses. Yes, it is also true that brain tumors can take a very long time to form, so in theory at least, it’s possible the earliest users (who happen to include the rich and famous) might be the first to get brain cancer if cellular radiation was a cause.

But how do their numbers compare to just the normal population at large?

Really to be fair, you have to ignore all the celebrity data. Why? Because you might have the numerator (the celebs who died of brain cancer) but the denominator is unknown (out of how many celebs they’re measuring).

Is the definition of a celeb someone who has a top 1,000 score on IMDB’s Star Meter? Or top 5,000?

Nope. In fact, some names on that list you likely haven’t heard of.

How about business people? Are they only looking at Fortune 500 C-suite execs?

Nope. There is no set of rules for what’s deemed a businessperson qualified for inclusion. Likewise for politicians.

That makes any statistics based off of the 300+ names statistical rubbish, since you can’t calculate how their brain cancer rates compare to the general population who were not using phones during those early years. They might have a higher cancer risk, but maybe it’s even lower. It’s impossible to know.

Plus, if you’re rich and famous, you probably fly a lot.

Here’s a look at the radiation exposure you get during commercial flights…

common sources and amounts of daily radiation exposure

As you see, flying is a major environmental source.

Bananas have a lot of radiation, for a food.

But worst of all is the radiation in Brazil nuts due to their off the charts radium 226 content. That fact, along with selenium poisoning (just 2 nuts can exceed your RDI) is why we no longer use them in our healthy Chex Mix recipe at Christmas.

Taking all of these environmental radiation sources into consideration, are cell phones dangerous to your health? Does WiFi cause cancer?

As you can see, these questions are not the simplest to answer, because there are so many variables involved.

Unlike a study measuring whether or not a medication gives you a headache, these are questions which can literally take decades to fully answer, since tumors don’t just form overnight.

That’s why it’s best not to only cherry pick a couple studies when it comes to these questions and instead, consider the opinions of large international bodies, which comprise the opinions of multiple countries and governments.

What the World Health Organization says

IARC cancer ratingsThe International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) is part of the World Health Organization.

As of May 31, 2011 they have classified electromagnetic fields – which include those used for wireless communications – as “possibly carcinogenic” to humans (17).

That conclusion was drawn by a working group of 31 scientists, coming from 14 different countries.

It’s a 2B classification and you can see here how that line ups in terms of their risk ranking.

Now in all fairness, there are a lot of common things within the 2B catagroy. Due to the high amount of acrylamide in coffee, it too is considered “possibly carcinogenic” to humans.

The debate of whether mobile phones cause cancer or harmful effects won’t likely be settled for quite some time. Due to the slow nature of cancer, it may be take up to a decade or two until more conclusive opinions can be drawn.

One of the most interesting studies will no doubt be the COSMOS cohort, which is currently being conducted by the UK, Denmark, France, Sweden, Finland, and the Netherlands (18). It officially started April 22, 2010 and the goal is to follow 90,000 to 100,000 adult volunteers for a period of 20 to 30 years.

Recent cancer studies

Okay, here’s where we admittedly are cherry picking a couple studies to present. Here’s why…

  • They are more recent.
  • They seem well designed. Some earlier studies had too small of sample sizes and other design flaws.
  • The cell phone brain cancer studies pre and post 2010 seem to have different results. And seemingly, not in a good way!

albino lab ratIn 2016 the US government’s National Toxicology Program (NTP) wrapped up a big 2 year study using rodents (19).

Now in humans, 2 years wouldn’t be long enough. But in rats and mice, that can be the majority of their lifespan. They were exposed daily to frequencies of 900 and 1,900 mHZ. The same as many phones, but less than WiFi.

While the full study results have not yet been published yet, the NTP apparently felt some of the information was so important (or maybe alarming?) that it should be released beforehand. In May 2016 their preliminary findings were:

  • The rate of malignant gliomas (brain cancer) increased
  • The rate nueromas (noncancerous nerve sheath tumors) increased in the heart

This was seen in the male rats only. The increased difference versus the control group was in the low single digits percentage for these. That may seem trivial, but you have to keep in mind these types of cancers are very uncommon. Most disturbing of all is that similar tumor types have been seen in post 2010 human studies.

While the studies before 2010 were negative, there are 3 case-control human studies since then which have suggested a possible an increased rate of brain cancer. Plus in 2 of those, the tumors were seen on the same sides of the head that the people held their device to (20) (21) (22) (23) (24) (25) (26) (27).

Just about every cell phone health hazards article will focus on the C-word since it’s the scariest disease. But many of these human studies are also linking mobile phones and benign tumors – nerve sheath tumors. Those are the same things the NTP reported in 2016 about their rat study.

Acoustic neuroma (schwannoma)

Neuromas can occur on any nerve but since we hold the device to our ear, that area is of particular concern. That’s a slow growing tumor which is on the nerve that connects your ear to your brain. Since ringing in the ears can be a symptom, it is sometimes misdiagnosed as tinnitus (28).

The theory that cellular radiation might increase the risk for acoustic neuromas remains unproven, but chatter about this topic seems to be increasing.

acoustic neuroma diagram
Image credit: Blausen.com staff. Wikiversity Journal of Medicine. DOI:10.15347/wjm/2014.010. ISSN 20018762. (Own work) [CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
As with the gliomas, while the pre-2010 studies were negative, since 2010 some have shown a correlation with rates of acoustic neuromas for the highest exposure categories.

WiFi side effects

Cell phone radiation effects on the brain, breast, and other parts of the body remain unknown. Any trends of tumors seen in some recent studies is not conclusive evidence.

With even less research about WiFi, of course any accusations will be just that. At least for now.

But in theory, does wifi cause health problems worse than cell phones? That’s what some people are purporting, at least for children and students.

Why? Because kids are not talking on iPhones, but they are playing on them as well as iPads, sometimes for hours everyday. With thinner skulls, more absorbent brain tissue, and the radiation being spread across a smaller body, it potentially adds up to a more troubling situation than the amount of exposure in a grown adult (29).

Studies which show WiFi causing cancer or acoustic neuromas aren’t out there. However since the frequencies are so close to cellular, if a health hazard is happening with one, it should warrant scrutiny of the other.

Like cell phones, the 2B classification for WiFi is “possibly carcinogenic” according to the World Health Organization.

SAR rating is a scam, kind of

How bad is cell phone radiation? You probably have heard of specific absorption rate (SAR), which is the legal limit for how much radiation they emit and can be absorbed by your body.

If it’s happening, is paying attention to SAR how to prevent cancer from mobile devices?

Nope, at least not in our opinion and that of many scientists.

In the US, the SAR rating must be at or below 1.6 watts per kilogram, averaged over the volume of 1 gram of tissue which absorbs the most signal.

In the EU, the SAR rating of 2.0 watts might sound worse, but it’s averaged over 10 grams of tissue instead of 1.

This makes the EU vs. US SAR limit an apples to oranges comparison (but that’s not the problem with it).

Samsung Galaxy NoteIf you’re wondering which phones have the lowest SAR rating, each of the last several Samsung Galaxy models have ranked among the lowest. The Apple iPhone is not the worst, but it’s far from the lowest.

The AT&T iPhone 7 model has a SAR level of 1.19 w/kg for the head and 1.09 for the body.

Compare that to the US models of the Samsung Galaxy S7, which have a head SAR level of 0.27 and a body SAR of 0.66.

Before smart phones, the older style “dumb” phones actually tended to have lower SAR ratings. That means today’s phones are worse overall, if you’re basing your answer on SAR.

But you shouldn’t base it on SAR. And even if you wanted to, you can no longer buy one of those antiques that has the LED or LCD readout for the number being dialed.

While not disagreeing that the lower SAR is preferable, the whole rating is antiquated and was developed during the 90’s (30). Aside from being used in a completely different manner back then, the health concerns about cell phones are not regarding their thermal (heat) generation. Yet that is what SAR testing looks at.

Joel Moskowitz, Ph.D., who is the director of the Center for Family and Community Health at the UC Berkeley Prevention Research Center School of Public Health, has said this about the system (31):

“The SAR in itself is a problematic standard, because basically it was derived to protect against the acute effect of heating from microwave radiation. It’s kind of a bizarre standard, because the effects the health community are concerned about are not thermal in nature. They’re the lower intensity exposures that are chronic over time. So the whole SAR framework is outdated.”

We couldn’t agree more. SAR is a not a scam if you really are focusing on thermal effects. Though if you’re like many scientists, it’s the biological effects the radiation might have on cells which seems to be the big concern.

Is Samsung better than iPhone for your health? Well if you want to base the decision solely off of SAR, then one could argue that. But it would be dishonest to make the accusation that iPhone causes cancer or is more likely to, while another brand does not. As of now, there is no model or manufacturer which has been singled out in the health studies.

The only valid reason to switch to a Galaxy is if you prefer Android over iOS.

10 ways to reduce side effects of cell & WiFi

Does a cell phone really cause cancer or not? As of today, the official answer is that they don’t cause cancer, but are considered “possibly carcinogenic” according to the World Health Organization. Ditto for WiFi.

This is a debate which will continue for some time to come. These technologies are science experiments in progress, as is pretty much every invention of the modern era.

Similar to cigarettes in the past, back when doctors actually recommended them to asthma patients, will the next generation look back on our era and ask “how could they have been so stupid?!”

asthma cigarettesHopefully not. But what history has taught us is that every generation thinks they have things right. That they know it all.

Then in subsequent generations, the prior beliefs are better understood for what they are… premature opinions and prejudices.

Do we honestly think our generation is any different than those before us?

Humans are slow to accept change, consider different perspectives, and break old habits.

So if it’s possible that cell phones are bad for your brain and health, should you stop using them now?

Some would emphatically say yes. They would tell you to forget that new Samsung Galaxy 8 and instead, dump your devices altogether. Perhaps even move out to Wyoming and live off the grid.

Well, that’s one way how to prevent cell phone cancer, if it’s happening.

We favor a less extreme approach…

There are simple things you can do to substantially reduce your radiation exposure, without having to give up your mobile devices.

You don’t even have to change your tablet or phone model, but you will have to change your daily habits in how you use them, transport them, and store them.

1. Distance yourself

Even when not in use, cell phones emit radiation. Yes it’s a lot less than when in use (when voice/data is being transmitted) but still, the phone is continuously in touch with the nearest cell tower so it can receive a text or call.

Even if the inverse-square law is too complicated for you, all you have to remember is that the radiation exposure drops exponentially as you distance yourself from the emitting source.

The Monocle Guide To Better Living book next to phone on table

When you get to the office, a restaurant, or wherever it is you’re going, make sure you set your phone away from you. A few feet away if possible, but even a few inches is way better than in your pocket or bra.

Does sleeping with your cell phone cause cancer? There’s no evidence of that either, as no controlled studies have focused specifically on that scenario. Regardless, dozing off as you play on your iPhone is a bad habit.

At night, you should set it across the room before you finally konk out. Even without evidence of danger, having it inches from your sleeping head just doesn’t seem like it would be good for your health. When not on a call and not in use, why expose yourself to emitting radiation unnecessarily as you sleep?

Not to mention, the bacteria and oil on the surface of it, which could end up on your sheets and then your face. Acne breakouts? No thank you!

2. Hold it away from body

When texting or whatever else, you really shouldn’t be resting your hands on your abdominal region or reproductive organs!

Stop being lazy.

Hold your phone up and out a bit, so it’s not so close to your body.

If it’s occurring, how can you get cancer from a cell phone is an unknown. Any biological side effects taking place in the body are yet to be determined. Though even without knowing potential cause(s), by holding it further away from your vital organs, you’re probably making the cell phone safe or safer.

3. Cell phone breast cancer risk?

female jogger in sports bra with iPhoneDoes carrying a cell phone in your bra cause breast cancer? Most studies seems to focus on the brain. We are unaware of any controlled human study which evaluates women who use their bra to hold their iPhone, etc.

While not a controlled study, one specific piece of research which was published in 2013 by UCLA (32). It was a case study of four young women who had no family history of breast cancer and had negative tests for BRCA1, BRCA2, and other genetic risk markers.

They carried their cell phones in their breast or sports bra for up to 10 hours per day. They had developed tumors directly beneath where they carried their phones.

breast cancer on 21 year old where she stored cell phone

That mammogram is of a 21 year old student from the case report. There were actually two 21 year old girls who had these tumors which were allegedly right under where they stored their phones. They stored it there for much of the day, including during exercise like jogging.

Could the occurrence and location of these tumors be a coincidence? Sure. But given their young age and lack of genetic risk factors, the researchers stressed how unusual it seemed, since there were multiple tumors in the breast and they “were all clustered within the area of breast tissue directly underlying the cellular device, and nowhere else.” In their discussion they said:

“Until more data becomes available, efforts should be made to encourage cellular phone users to follow the recommendations of mobile device manufacturers and to avoid skin contact. Further research is urgently needed in this area.”

It’s unknown if there are potential dangers of putting a cell phone in a bra. As of today, the official answer is it’s 100% safe to do. Yet common sense says it might be a wise idea for women to carry it in their purse, rather than their chest or back pocket, until this area of the body has been further studied.

4. Avoid your pocket, try a backpack

If you use a backpack, try and place the phone in the outermost position, separating it from your back with books, a wadded up hoodie, etc.

phone in jeans front pocketWe are only aware of one case-control study about testicular cancer and cell phones in pocket. It was published a decade ago, back in 2007 (33). The findings did not suggest an increased risk, but still, betting your balls – literally – on that one study seems well, kind of ballsy to do!

While there is not evidence of tumors, there seems to be for other side effects…

Based on DNA fragmentation, semen quality was found to be “significantly altered” in “trousers users” (men who carried their cell phone in their pocket). It was also observed in the non “trouser users” who used their phones the most (4+ hours per day in this study) (34). That was published in 2013.

Is it dangerous to carry cell phone in pocket? Perhaps the best way to answer that question is not with the aforementioned cherry picked study, but rather the pooled results from 10 different experimental and observation studies. In total, that’s 1,492 men.

The Cleveland Clinic Center For Reproductive Medicine did exactly that and their conclusion was that carrying it in the pocket “negatively impacts sperm quality” (35). To be clear, that doesn’t tell us if a cell phone in pocket causes or is linked to testicular cancer. Regardless, most men would agree that any adverse effects on sperm count and motility are frightening enough, even if there aren’t tumors on their testicles.

For most women, this is an easier situation to deal with. They already have a purse or handbag which they can use to carry it.

Men, maybe it’s time to get a man purse?

5. Use flight mode

iPhone in flight modeIf you want to – or have to – carry your phone in your pocket, then put it in flight mode.

This turns off all radio communication. With that on, having it snug up against your crotch or boobs is perfectly fine.

Yes, it means you won’t be in touch, in real-time. Maybe that’s not acceptable for your job but if it is, go for it.

The idea is to take it out of flight mode when you get to where you’re going. In your car you can have it on, on your desk it can be on, basically anytime you’re not carrying it you can leave it on. When transporting, switch to flight mode.

Is using a running armband safe? As with the phone in the bra, there really aren’t scientific safety studies specifically about that.

When you’re on a run or jog, you probably don’t want to be chit-chatting anyway… you just want your music. As long as you aren’t streaming it, you can safely put your iPhone etc. in flight mode without interrupting your playlist.

6. Use ethernet

ethernet cableDo you really need to use WiFi at home?

Perhaps with iPads, because they don’t have an Ethernet port and rigging up the connection another way is possible, but not fun.

With PC laptops, you should have the port.

And guess what? You don’t need a new router.

You can turn off the WiFi on your router and make use of the Ethernet ports on the back of it. Plug a cable into it and then plug that in to your computer.

But maybe your router is in the living room and you don’t want an 50 foot Ethernet cord running down your hallway.

Nor do you want to pay big bucks for installing wires in the wall.

No problem, we have a solution for that.

We use powerline adapters. They transmit the internet signal from your router through your electrical outlets. To tap into the internet signal, simply plug the adapter into the outlet closest to your computer.

You will need at least 2 adapters to get going. 1 to plug into the router, which then plugs into the wall power outlet. Another one you can plug into any outlet in your house, for getting the signal.

Try the TP-LINK AV500 Nano Powerline Adapter Starter Kit

7. Use speakerphone

Apple iPhone in spearkerphone modeDepending on the model, a Bluetooth transmits radio waves even closer to your ear and head.

Most agree that a wired headset is better than a wireless Bluetooth, or holding the phone to your ear. However, there have been concerns raised about the transmitting signal traveling inside of the wire which goes to your head. Plus with the iPhone 7 and onward, you have to hassle with an adapter to use any sort of wired headphone or microphone.

That leaves speakerphone. Most people have a bad habit of holding their phone while on speaker. Ideally it would be best to set it on a table while using.

8. Use an air tube headset

Speakerphone is tough in noisy areas and situations where privacy is required.

The solution is air tube acoustic technology. It’s basically the same as a normal wired headset, except at a point in the wire the signal is broken and then is transmitted through an air tube.

That way, any radiation traveling up the headset is stopped, long before it gets to the side of your brain.

Check out the deluxe anti-radiation headset by EMF Relief

9. Laptop and iPad lap shield

Defenderpad with iPadSo what do you do with an iPad or an iOS device, which is made for WiFi?

Well if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em… but do so smartly.

The DefenderPad which just looks like a sheet piece of plastic, but inside it’s lined with patent-pending non-toxic multi-layering technology which blocks virtually 100% of WiFi radiation and extremely low frequncy (ELF) radiation from passing through.

You set it on your lap and with your iPad, laptop, or phone above it.

Do radio waves still come out from the sides and top of your device? Absolutely. But those closest to your body are stopped and thanks to the inverse-square law, that difference in exposure from the rest is minimal.

Even if you’re only using it for a tablet, we recommend the DefenderPad for laptops since it’s the biggest.

10. Radiation reducing cell phone cover

There are a few on the market and the biggest manufacturers are Pong Research, RF Safe, and the newer SafeSleeve. Here at Superfoodly we have owned and used all of them.

Previously, the Pong case was our top choice, but the way it works is that it directs radiation to the back of the phone. If you put your phone into your pocket backwards (with screen facing out) that would actually worsen your exposure. When your texting in your lap, that’s another time you don’t want more radiation traveling downward.

One person here got one for his mother and eventually he had to confiscate it, because she was ignoring his instructions about always having the screen face out.

SafeSleeve anti-radiation caseThe SafeSleeve covers both sides. Yes, it can be annoying to flip open the cover sometimes, but you quickly get used to it.

The benefit is that when you flip the cover back to text/type/browse, you are actually doubling the thickness between your crotch and the back of the phone since it’s now two layers of RF blocking material.

Best of all, it has 3 slots for a license and credit cards. That means it can replace your wallet.

And not that we would ever recommend basing a health decision on aesthetics, but this looks the best. We’re not the biggest fans of the material used on the RF Safe brand. Even if you use the Pong case correctly, the cover discolors pretty badly, at least with the lighter color we used for 2+ years.

You can get the SafeSleeve in leather (pictured above), black, or grey. All are equal in terms of their radiation blocking performance.