Radiation from cell phones can possibly cause cancer, according to the World Health Organization. The agency now lists mobile phone use in the same “carcinogenic hazard” category as lead, engine exhaust and chloroform. As of 2010, there were more than 303 million subscribers to cell phone service in the United States, according to the Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association. Globally, the number of cell phone subscriptions is estimated to be 5 billion.
A team of 31 scientists from 14 countries, including the United States, made the decision after reviewing peer-reviewed studies on cell phone safety. The team found enough evidence to categorize personal exposure as “possibly carcinogenic to humans.”
Cell phones emit radiofrequency energy. Concerns have been raised that this energy from cell phones may pose a cancer risk to users. The tissues next to where the phone is held absorb this energy. What that means is they found some evidence of increase in glioma and acoustic neuroma brain cancer for mobile phone users, but have not been able to draw conclusions for other types of cancers.
Radiofrequency energy is a form of non-ionizing electromagnetic radiation; exposure depends upon the technology of the phone, distance between the phone’s antenna and the user, the extent and type of use, and distance of the user from base stations.
The Apple iPhone 4 safety manual says: When using iPhone near your body for voice calls or for wireless data transmission over a cellular network, keep iPhone at least 15 millimeters (5/8 inch) away from the body. BlackBerry Bold advises users to “keep the BlackBerry device at least 0.98 inch (25 millimeters) from your body when the BlackBerry device is transmitting.”
Finally, cell phones emit the most radiation when they are attempting to connect to cellular towers. A moving phone, or a phone in an area with a weak signal, has to work harder, giving of more radiation. So users can avoid using their cell phones in elevators, buildings and rural areas if they want to reduce their exposure, experts say.