Highlights

  • Take a look at what radiation is and how it works
  • Understand how our bodies react to mobile phones
  • This is still an active field of study

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Mobile phone radiation: is it killing you?

You may have heard people say that radiation coming from mobile phones is harmful to humans. Some say they cause cancer and memory loss, or that 5G towers give you Covid. But what does medical research have to say on the matter?

Is mobile phone radiation slowly killing you?

You would have heard a lot of things about the radiation coming from mobile phones. Some people say they cause cancer and memory loss, or that 5G towers will give you Covid. But what does medical research have to say on the matter? Is your mobile phone really killing you?

Short answer - not really. But there are some complex things to consider, so let’s dive in.

Also watch: Death and the Internet: what happens to your data when you die?

What is radiation?

First, we need to understand what radiation is. According to the US CDC, radiation is energy that comes from a source and travels through space at the speed of light. There is a wide range of electromagnetic radiation present in nature, which can be represented on an electromagnetic spectrum. This can further be divided into ionizing and nonionizing radiation

Visible light can be seen around the middle, while to the left of it is the non-ionising radiation, which is low frequency and low energy. It is emitted from things like TV’s, Wi-Fi, or even Microwaves.

On the other side is ionising radiation, which has been proven to be harmful to humans. This the kind of radiation that you might get from x-rays or cosmic rays, which can damage DNA, and cause changes to genes which increases the risk of cancer.

What kind of radiation do phones emit?

Before understanding the effects of cell phone radiation, let’s first understand what kind of radiation this is. According to the US National Cancer Institute, 2G, 3G, and 4G smartphones emit radiofrequency in the range of 0.7 - 2.7 Ghz, while 5G phones could use the spectrum up to 80 Ghz. This places them squarely in the non-ionising radiation range of the spectrum.

The National Cancer Institute says there is currently no consistent evidence that non-ionizing radiation increases cancer risk in humans.

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How does the body react to cell phones?

The human body does absorb the energy from devices that emit radiofrequency radiation. The only thing that has consistently been observed as a result of this, is that places where you hold a mobile phone can heat up. This heating effect is also not sufficient to lead to a measurable change in body temperature.

According to the National Cancer Institute, there have been three large studies which examined a possible association between smartphone use and cancer. Now, these studies did show some mixed results, but overall, all three studies did not show any such association.

There have also been studies which checked the rate of brain cancer cases every year, since mobile phone use increased exponentially across the world. These also showed that across the past few decades, while mobile phone use has increased exponentially around the world, the rate of brain or nervous system cancers has not grown.

Are mobile phones completely safe?

So, are mobile phones completely safe? The US Food and Drug Administration puts it best: based on the evaluation of the currently available information the weight of scientific evidence has not linked exposure to radio frequency energy from mobile phone use with any health problems.

But this is an active field of study, and lots of research is still underway. In Europe, for example, a study called COSMOS will follow around 3 lakh mobile phone users for 20 to 30 years, to find out the possible long term effects of mobile users.

Which basically means, as far as we know right now, mobile phones do not cause cancer. But, as we continue to study the long term health effects of these devices, we will know more with time.

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