What’s My Health Risk from Cell Phones and EMF Radiation?

health risk from cell phones
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The science around the health effects of cell phone radiation (EMF/EMR) is complicated, and can appear contradictory. So it is very difficult for average consumers to have any actual understanding of what their risk might be from using a cell phone. But of course, that’s the important question we’re all interested in. So what is the health risk from cell phones?

The Health Risk from Cell Phones is Complex

This question is not possible with precise certainty to answer with precise certainty for two main reasons:

  1. Because of varying levels of radiation and the different ways in which people hold their phones, there is no way to know what your exposures are (and thus, what your actual risk might be), just from saying “I use my iPhone to make calls for an hour a day.”
  2. As well, individuals respond individually to doses of EMF radiation. Some individuals are known as electrohypersensitive (EHS), and are particularly responsive to even extremely low doses. Other individuals have very healthy systems capable of repairing the damage that results from EMF exposures. And there is a wide spectrum in between.

So outcomes will vary not only based on varying exposures, but also the health, well being and physiology of each individual.

As well, some of the most concerning health outcomes linked to cell phone radiation exposure (such as brain tumors) can take decades to form. Just because you’ve used a cell phone for 10 years now without developing a tumor, doesn’t mean you won’t in another 10 years, even if you never touch another cell phone. Neither does it mean you will. Nor does it mean that, if you do form a tumor, it was the result of your cell phone usage. It’s just how disease and science work.

But Science Can Help Us Understand the Health Risks of Cell Phones

Despite the complexity, the known science can help inform your understanding of the risks associated with cell phone usage.

Dr. Lennart Hardell
Dr. Lennart Hardell is professor in oncology and cancer epidemiology at the University Hospital in Orebro, Sweden.

For simplicity, let’s look at a single study, published in 2007 by a group including Dr. Lennart Hardell that examined the incidence of malignant brain tumors among thousands of individuals. This study is among the first epidemiological studies on this question, following such a large number of subjects over an extended evaluation period.

Hardell and the researchers found that, not only does cell phone use increase the risk of forming malignant brain tumors, but that the risk increased with latency time (i.e., how much time had passed since the cell phone exposure) and cumulative use.

The published results include a fair bit of data. I have extracted this portion (from Table 4 in the published results) to demonstrate the dose-response relationship between cell phone exposures and the risk of forming malignant brain tumors, over different time frames.

 Risk (OR) of Forming Malignant Brain Tumor Compared to “Unexposed” Population (Who Do Not Use Cell or Cordless Phones)
Cumulative Hours on Digital Cell Phone1-5 Yrs Later5-10 Yrs Later10+ Yrs Later
1,001 – 2,000160%150%200%
2,000 +80%160%640%
Reynard X-Rays
X-rays of the tumor in his deceased wife’s brain, submitted by David Reynard in his 1992 lawsuit against Motorola.

Dr. Hardell’s data reveals some significantly increased risk from supposedly “safe” doses— and that the risk increases both with the dose, and the amount of time that passes.

So, while today it is impossible to actually answer the question “what are the risks of cell phone use” (remember: brain tumors are but one class of the negative health effects associated with cell phone use), I have included this one study to note that high-quality peer-reviewed science has identified such risks, and that such risks are demonstrated to increase in a dose-response relationship.

The more you use the tech, the greater your cumulative exposure; the greater your cumulative exposure, the greater the risk of forming malignant brain tumors. And the risk continues to increase with time, even if your cumulative use remains unchanged!

But, to be clear, the actual risks of cell phone use can not today be accurately known. There is, however, a large and growing body of peer-reviewed science that demonstrates that, while these risks remain unquantifiable, they most certainly exist.

You can reduce your exposures by reducing the amount time you spend on the phone, keeping the phone as far away from you as possible, and using products designed to reduce your exposures, such as our 5G Phone Shield, Phone Pouch and Pocket Patch.

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