Do Cell Phones Cause Brain Cancer?

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The Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania
Last Modified: June 27, 2002

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Question

Dear OncoLink "Ask The Experts,"
Do cell phones cause brain cancer?  

Answer

Li Liu, MD, OncoLink editorial assistant, responds:

Dear D:
Thank you for your interest and question.

Concern over the safety of radiofrequency (RF) energy from cellular telephones and transmitting facilities for cellular systems has grown alongside the potential increase in public RF exposure resulting from the proliferation of wireless communication systems. RF communication bands, which include AM/FM radio, very high frequency (VHF) and ultra-high frequency (UHF) television, cellular telephones, pagers, two-way radios, radar, and satellite communications, make up part of the nonionizing portion of the electromagnetic spectrum.

Analog cellular telephones operate in the rage of 800-960 MHz, and new digital personal communication devices operate in the rage of 1600-2000 MHz. The thermal effects of high exposures to RF electric and magnetic fields are the basis for existing safety and health exposure guidelines. The current scientific consensus is that there is insufficient evidence from animal and epidemiologic research to demonstrate adverse human health effects (Environ Health Perspect 1999 Feb;107 Suppl 1:155-68; Radiation Research 1999 May;151(5):513-31). Nevertheless, it is prudent to avoid unnecessary and prolonged exposures. One way of doing this is by using devices that allow the cell phone antenna to remain at an extended distance from the body. It should be emphasized that radiation induced malignancies take years to occur. The wide use of cellular phones remains relatively short and longer follow up is needed to make any definitive conclusions.



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