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10 Cancer Myths

        Health | General Cancer Facts

Do Cell Phones Cause Cancer?

Cancer Myth 8: Electronic devices, like cell phones, can cause cancer in the people who use them.

Respondents Who Agreed: 30 percent

Origin of Myth: Lawsuits and news headlines have fueled the myth that cell phones cause cancer, particularly brain cancer, and 30 percent of Americans still believe this myth, according to the Discovery Health/Prevention telephone survey.

Reality: A few studies suggested a link with certain rare types of brain tumors, but the consensus among well-designed population studies is that there is no consistent association between cell phone use and brain cancer.

Consumers could easily have missed the reports showing no danger from cell phones because they didn't receive alarming front-page coverage like the original reports. What has been proven is that using a cell phone while driving increases the risk of having a car accident. So, keeping your hands free and your eyes on the road is a more significant issue for people who use cell phones.

No Apparent Cancer Link for Other Electronic Devices

Considerable research has also found no clear association between any other electronic consumer products and cancer. Cell phones, microwave ovens and related appliances emit low-frequency radiation — the part of the electromagnetic spectrum that includes radio waves and radar. Ionizing radiation such as gamma rays and X-rays can increase cancer risk by causing changes to DNA in cells of the body. Low frequency, non-ionizing radiation does not cause these DNA changes.

For people who are still suspicious about any possible health effects from cell phones, the Food and Drug Administration Center for Devices and Radiological Health (CDRH) offers advice to people concerned about their risk. Experts from the CDRH can explain practical ways to minimize exposure to radio-frequency radiation while using a cell phone. Also, people can choose digital rather than analog telephones.

For more information, the ACS book Cancer: What Causes It, What Doesn't provides an educated perspective on what cancer health hazards people may face in everyday life, and what's not worth worrying about.