Do you worry about your family using cell phones?

An international panel of experts says cell phones are possible cancer-causing agents and classified them with the pesticide DDT, gasoline engine exhaust and coffee. (How are DDT and coffee in the same category?)

From The Associated Press:

“The classification was issued Tuesday in Lyon, France, by the International Agency for Research on Cancer after a review of dozens of published studies. The agency is an arm of the World Health Organization and its assessment now goes to WHO and national health agencies for possible guidance on cellphone use.”

“Classifying agents as “possibly carcinogenic” doesn’t mean they automatically cause cancer and some experts said the ruling shouldn’t change people’s cellphone habits.”

” ‘Anything is a possible carcinogen,’ said Donald Berry, a professor of biostatistics at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center at the University of Texas. He was not linked to the WHO cancer group. “This is not something I worry about and it will not in any way change how I use my cellphone,” he said — from his cellphone.”

“After a week-long meeting, the expert panel said there was limited evidence cellphone use was linked to two types of brain tumors and inadequate evidence to draw conclusions for other cancers.”

” ‘We found some threads of evidence telling us how cancers might occur, but there were acknowledged gaps and uncertainties,’ said Jonathan Samet, the panel’s chairman.”

” ‘The WHO’s verdict means there is some evidence linking mobile phones to cancer but it is too weak to draw strong conclusions from,’ said Ed Yong, head of health information at Cancer Research U.K. ‘If such a link exists, it is unlikely to be a large one…’ “

“Cellphones send signals to nearby towers via radio frequency waves, a form of energy similar to FM radio waves and microwaves. But the radiation produced by cellphones cannot directly damage DNA and is different from stronger types of radiation like X-rays or ultraviolet light. At very high levels, radio frequency waves from cellphones can heat up body tissue, but that is not believed to damage human cells.”

“Some experts recommended people use a headset or earpiece if they are worried about the possible health dangers of cellphones. “If there is a risk, most of it goes away with a wireless earpiece,” said Otis Brawley, chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society.”

“Brawley said people should focus on the real health hazards of cellphones. “Cellphones may cause brain tumors but they kill far more people through automobile accidents,” he said. Brawley added it was also reasonable to limit children’s use of cellphones since their brains are still developing.”

This particular study doesn’t make me worry anymore about cell phone use than I did before. They’re placing it in a category with coffee – that doesn’t seem too threatening. (However DDT doesn’t sound good – how can coffee be in the same category as DDT? Hmm.)

I do try to use an earpiece instead of holding the phone to my head. It is for convenience but also just in case. What I am not clear on is does the Bluetooth produce anything that could cause problems since it is electrical vs a headset with a wire where there is nothing electrical there.

My kids aren’t of age to use a cellphone but I do think I would be more concerned about them using one versus an adult. Maybe there will be more conclusive studies by the time they are old enough to use them.

Do you worry about possible cancer from cell phones? Do you try to use a earpiece of that reason?

Does this study make you worry more, less or no differently?

Do you worry about your teens or kids being on cell phones?

31 comments Add your comment


May 31st, 2011
5:01 pm

I am more worried with them texting and driving

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

May 31st, 2011
5:04 pm

Techmom — I need somebody to answer that —


May 31st, 2011
5:06 pm

I’m with Julia. I’ve bigger fish to fry.

Plus teenagers don’t talk on the phone, they just text.

Why would a cell phone cause cancer but an ear piece not?


May 31st, 2011
5:06 pm


May 31st, 2011
5:28 pm

No to all four questions.

BEND OVER -Here Comes the Change

May 31st, 2011
5:42 pm

Only if the are driving and talking/texting/sexting. Put down the phone or PULL OVER. How stupid is driving and texting?


May 31st, 2011
6:06 pm

People will die sooner from driving around with phone to their head completely oblivious to things like freight trains, other traffic on the road, etc. Some of them seem to have a death wish, and let’s be honest here, many more ladies are on the phone than men so risk of cancer from cellphones is going to have more impact on women than men.

Ladies, you go bananas to fight breast cancer, yet here is research saying your phone might be giving you cancer. Might. Maybe. But what would you do differently if they said something you do might give you breast cancer? You’d stop using it. You’d fight stores that sold it. There’d be walks to celebrate the women who stood up and said they would not do or buy that something anymore. You know it. But the cellphone? Never gonna give that up.


May 31st, 2011
6:34 pm

PA honey you would have a better chance of getting hit by a bus than to get breast cancer from a cell phone.. and its been told Years ago that it was brain cancer but then they could not find it on mice


May 31st, 2011
6:46 pm

PA – many more ladies are on the phone than men? Please cite your source.


May 31st, 2011
6:47 pm

We don’t use them. Enough causes of cancer in this world.


May 31st, 2011
6:49 pm

BlueTooth earpieces do give off some of the same radiation as cell phones. Dr. Sanjay Gupta recommends the admittedly more dorky, but no-risk, wired earpieces:


May 31st, 2011
6:52 pm

(For the record that article I posted is from 5/20 before the WHO’s announcement today)


May 31st, 2011
7:16 pm

I saw the article on USAToday. Any article that starts with the phrase “experts say”, I ignore whatever comes after that.

In short, no I don’t worry about getting cancer from a cell phone.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

May 31st, 2011
7:30 pm

I will read that Reno — thanks for the link


May 31st, 2011
8:08 pm

i think most people-at least teens…and myself, text more than talk. im not gonna worry about it. theres enough stuff in this world thats gonna kill us all.


May 31st, 2011
8:13 pm

they could come out with definative proof that cell phones caused cancer and people would still use them all the time. for some reason people cant live without a cell phone??


May 31st, 2011
8:35 pm

I’ve wondered if this is a tinfoil hat case or real for a few years. I haven’t made up my mind yet. I don’t use my cell phone much because I only turn it on or answer it when I want to lol. My wife is different. She uses hers all the time. my daughter has one, but that’s only for emergency’s. (long story, none of anybody’s business).

But the “story keeps surfacing enough to make me notice. Just like the one about Teflon and Alzheimer’s………. I don’t use Teflon cookware.


May 31st, 2011
8:59 pm

I don’t worry about my kids and cellphone use because they rarely ever use them to talk. All they do is text all day long. I don’t think this is a real issue. I am always hesitant to believe the “latest study”.


May 31st, 2011
9:36 pm

I’m just waiting for for the mutations to surface from cell phone usage. Years ago it was said that cigs weren’t bad for you, but it should have been obvious that they were. People don’t own cell phones. Cell phones own people. I think cell phones are a great invention but it has turned almost everyone into a cell phone fool.

Metro Coach

May 31st, 2011
9:54 pm

DDT’s not really bad for the environment either.


May 31st, 2011
9:57 pm

then I guess that will have to be the way I go out because I REFUSE to get a landline. ever. Then again, I guess I might be remotely concerned if I actually talked on my phone. Maybe now, folks will quit calling me.


June 1st, 2011
7:59 am

“Experts” have weighed in and came to the ominous conclusion that life is the actual cause of 100% of all deaths. This groundbreaking and earth shaking research concluded after all grant money was exhausted on booze, fine food, and exotic “research vacations” in the tropics. The “experts” are sure to claim newly available grant money for continuation of their studies, as they have a need to explore the angle on meaningless sex, and possible affects on life. This compeling research will of course, mean heavy expenses earmarked for the red light district in Amsterdam….cash only or American Express pleas.


June 1st, 2011
8:05 am

No to all of the questions..I’m with Julia on this one, I”m mmore worried about them texting and driving..Did anyone see the article yesterday about the 16 yr. old that was texting and casued a wreck that killed her and the other driver? She had only been driving for about 6 months..


June 1st, 2011
10:04 am

@ Techmom – Because using an earpiece places the radiation emitting cell phone farther from your body and brain. Only a small amount of that radiation transmits via the wire. The phone is the primary transmitter of radiation. This has been studied and documented, and cell phone manuals state a specific distance to hold the phone away from your body.

Regarding the blog question, we strictly limit our family’s cell phone use. The phones are turned off or in airplane mode when we are not making a call or expecting one. And, we don’t make many cell phone calls. Why? Because we have had two family members with different types of benign brain tumors, one who died of the benign tumor within four years. While these particular tumors, in this instance, were not necessarily caused by cell phones, brain tumors are not something that you want to experience in your family. We do not want anything that will remotely increase the chance of future brain tumors.

If you take all the studies to date, and divide out the ones funded by telecommunications companies and the ones not industry funded, you find striking results in the “non industry funded” studies that indicate serious issues. This type of comparison has been done.

Generally, people have become accustomed to cell phones and being connected throughout the day by phone. For the most part, though, many conversations are not urgent or important. I don’t understand why people want the constant interruptions while enjoying a walk, the park, or dinner at a restaurant.

I would ask those parents who take their kids to get every possible vaccination available, even for very rare illnesses, because of the remote chance of being exposed, do not also see the need to err on the side of caution with cell phones and the chance of brain tumors. There are reasons why numerous top neurologists and neurosurgeons are using earpieces and speakerphones. It will be another 10-20 years before this question is more definitely answered. Why take the chance when there is a $5 earpiece that removes the risk?


June 1st, 2011
10:22 am

I truly believe cancer is a business, and there will never be a cure. For once they find a cure, all fund raising to find a cure, would stop. I also believe that you either have the cancer gene, or you don’t.

I don’t believe cell phones cause brain cancer. I don’t believe smoking causes lung cancer. I don’t believe sunshine causes skin cancer.

I also don’t believe in doctors. I think 75% of the time, they just push a pill at you. And you can thank the prescription lobbyists for that.

I don’t believe in being FORCED to have health insurance. If I chose to go to the doctor, I’ll pay for it. But to make a law that everyone is FORCED to buy health insurance is totally UNCONSTITUTIONAL.


June 1st, 2011
10:35 am

Well if I didn’t have a dear younger friend diagnosed with a Glioma at the age of 29 and die at the age of 31, 2 1/2 years ago I don’t know if I would readily believe it either. He was in sales and he LIVED on his cell phones. I always wondered if there may have been some causal connection, and I really believe that because of his extensive cellphone use that this study is true.


June 1st, 2011
10:55 am

I knew a lady who passed away from lung cancer at the tender age of 43. She never smoked a day in her life…….


June 1st, 2011
10:57 am

If we’re going to get all hot and bothered about cell phones and cancer, what about wireless internet? Most folks have that in their homes nowadays, or their neighbors do and the signal makes it to your home, too. How about fluorescent lighting – how much exposure do any of us have to that on a daily basis?

Honestly, I think you’d have to be sunning yourself (via fluorescent lighting) on the patio of Starbucks downing venti mocha frappe whatevers and puffing on a marlboro while surfing their wireless internet and chatting on your phone on one ear and listening to the radio on your other ear in order to take yourself out of the “remote” category and in to the “possible” exposure limit.


June 1st, 2011
3:59 pm

@misawa and others who think the possibility of brain tumors and cancer is so rare, and that you would have to do extreme things to move to the “possible” exposure limit. One out of two men will get some type of cancer in their lifetime, and about one third of the overall population. Cancer is extremely common and takes a big toll on families, financially, and otherwise. Would you suggest that we not attempt to learn the causes of cancer and reduce the incidence? Should we just accept it as part of life and not make improvements? These things should be studied and researched. It is futile to automatically assume that all inventions and technologies are safe or healthy for humans. We should learn, progress, and tweak things over time.


June 1st, 2011
4:02 pm

@JJ “I knew a lady who passed away from lung cancer at the tender age of 43. She never smoked a day in her life……”

I’m not sure what point you are making. There are other causes of lung cancer, including asbestos, radon and air pollution exposures. But, 90% of lung cancers are related to smoking. Some acquire lung cancer from second hand smoke from family or work environments. Unless you know details of the kind of exposure of the person you know, conclusions cannot be drawn. It is well documented that smoking greatly increases your risk of lung cancer, heart disease, emphysema, and other illnesses.

matt freeman

June 2nd, 2011
9:40 am

I am worried nowadays in children using cellphones at an early stage. As little as a 6 year old is using cellphones to call or text their peers and some parents indulge their young ones.