Cell phones pose plenty of risks, but none of them are cancer

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Cell phones pose plenty of risks, but none of them are cancer

Research into the relationship between cell phones and cancer has been ongoing since the 1990s.

Ten years, $30 million, and thousands of rodents later, the results from one of the largest studies on the relationship between the type of radiation emitted from cell phones and risk of developing cancer was published last week. It’s the latest (and one of the largest) studies looking at the link, and the National Toxicology Program, which ran the study, concluded that the data showed a small uptick in the development of two types of cancer in rodents that were exposed to the radio frequency radiation.

The results, though, aren’t likely any cause for alarm around human health—experts, including those who worked on the project, are quick to note that the study was done on mice, and used levels of radiation far above the amount generated by regular cell phone use, and cannot be directly translated to humans.

In addition, Christopher Labos, a physician and associate in the McGill Office for Science and Society, says that the noted increase in cancer may just be due to chance: In studies like these, researchers examine dozens of organs and tissues for tumors, so in thousands of rodents, actually finding some isn’t surprising. The rats that were exposed to the radiation also lived longer than rats that were not.

All this is to say that, overall, the results—and the decade of research that went into it—haven’t done a lot to crystalize the still-murky understanding of the role of cell phones in cancer development. The study itself was carefully planned and executed, says Kenneth Foster, professor emeritus of bioengineering at the University of Pennsylvania, but the results were weak and hard to interpret.

Read on: Cell phones pose plenty of risks, but none of them are cancer

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