Cell phones have become an indispensable part of our lives. Through myriad mobile applications, smartphones have become the sole platform on which we execute major aspects of our day to day lives. Globally, more than 5 billion people have access to cell phones. In the United States alone, cellphone subscriptions have reached almost 400 million. Their necessity in our lives has made us forget the claims that their extensive usage might be detrimental to our health. For instance, does cell phone radiation really increase the chances of us getting cancer?
The question has, indeed, perplexed researchers devoted to the topic, who has previously come up short of conclusive evidence while researching into the linkage. However, a recent study published on 28th March 2018 by the U.S. National Toxicology Program (NTP) found ‘clear evidence’ that radiation from mobile phones cause cancer. The results were based on an experiment conducted on mice and rats, who were exposed to doses of radiation equivalent to an average mobile user’s lifetime exposure, over the course of two years. At the end of the experiment, it was found that several of the rats was diagnosed with a heart tissue cancer that’s too rare to be explained as a random occurrence.
The experiments conducted for the study were an upgrade to a previous study, which exposed rats to higher levels of radiation for 9 hours a day. The study, which was conducted 2 years prior, gave no significant evidence that cellphone use was directly linked with cancer, as the results could be side-stepped as statistical blips.
The findings of the current study, however, contradicts physical and biological knowledge about cell phone radiation, something that the wireless industry has clung on to. Cellphone towers use a form of radio waves that are ‘non-ionizing’, meaning it doesn’t possess enough energy to break electron down from their atom to turn them into ions. Ultraviolet radiation and X-Rays possess such power and therefore are known to cause cancer. Another rebuttal used them usually include the idea that evidence of the onset of tumors in rats and mice also doesn’t translate to their effect on human beings. Studies have, however, found that they are good indicators of human health risks.
However, the peer-reviewers of the study found that NTP had downplayed the results of the findings, attaching more confidence on the final result. This might be due to ongoing pressure from the communication industry, which has a history of misleading PR campaigns that influence journalists, consumers, and policymakers. Just as the tobacco and oil industries have downplayed the risks of smoking and climate change, the wireless industry might have influenced the scientists in downplaying the results of their findings.
So, how do the results of the NTP study goes against conventional wisdom regarding cell phone radiation? That’s the question that needs to be answered if we have any chance of putting this claim to bed once in for all. 95% of children in the United States between 13- to 17-year have access to smartphones. It’s imperative for the health of these children that robust scientific conclusion doesn’t get marred by corporate greed of the wireless industry.