Can you get cancer from using a cell phone?

With more than 4.6 billion cell phone users worldwide, a lot of people are wondering if cell phones cause cancer. The use of cell phones has exploded since the 1990s, and along with an increase in the number of cell phones has also been an increase in the amount of use time.

American adults spend an average of 3.5 hours per day on their mobile phones, a figure that continues to grow with apps, emails and more smartphone users. This has left a lot of health-savvy folks wondering if they have anything to worry about.

Due to the fact that mobile phones, including smartphones, give off radio frequency waves, concerns have risen about their safety, especially for brain, neck and head tumors. Unfortunately, published research results to these questions seem to remain conflicting, citing variables as the reason for the different answers to the same question.

However, according to the American Cancer Society, cell phones do not have enough energy in the form of non-ionizing radiation to cause DNA damage to humans. They also point out that there are different factors to consider such as how often you use your cell phone, how far (or close) you live to a tower (stronger waves) and even the type of phone you have, since different models give off different levels of energy.

The National Cancer Institute explains that there is no consistent evidence to show that exposure to non-ionizing radiation from things like microwave ovens and cell phones, as opposed to exposure from ionizing radiation like x-rays, increases the risk of cancer.

There are things you can do if you are concerned about increasing the risk of cancer due to cell phone use. One thing you can do is learn your phone’s SAR rate. This is the amount of energy the body absorbs from the radio frequencies emitted by your phone, called the Specific Absorption Rate.

Manufacturers are required by law (the FCC) to report the SAR level of their product. You can find your phone’s SAR rate either on their website or in your owner’s manual.

Cell phone users can also limit their use, use a landline when available and use hands-free kits. The government-run Better Health Channel out of Australia warns against carrying a cell phone directly next to your body when it’s turned on.

They also warn about claims of protective cell phone shields to reduce radio frequency radiation, saying there is no evidence to suggest they work, but may instead increase your cell phone’s energy level to combat the effect of the shield.