Facts About Cell Phones and Your Health

At a glance

Most of us depend on cell phones every day. Some people wonder if cell phones can cause health problems. Here’s what you should know about cell phones and your health.

Woman holding a cell phone with both hands

Common Questions

There is no scientific evidence that provides a definite answer to the question. Some organizations recommend caution in cell phone use. More research is needed before we know if using cell phones causes health effects.

Yes – cell phones and cordless phones use radiofrequency (RF) radiation to send signals. RF radiation is different from other types of radiation (like x-rays) that we know can be harmful. We don’t know for sure if RF radiation from cell phones can cause health problems years later. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified RF radiation as a “possible human carcinogen.” (A carcinogen is an agent that causes cancer.)

At this time we do not have the science to link health problems to cell phone use. Scientific studies are under way to determine whether cell phone use may cause health effects. It is also important to consider the benefits of cell phones. Their use can be valuable in an urgent or emergency situation – and even save lives.

If you are worried about cell phone use, follow the tips below.

Scientists are continuing to study the possible health effects of cell phone use. For example, the World Health Organization (WHO) is currently looking into how cell phones may affect:

  • Some types of tumors (a lump or growth)
  • Our eyes
  • Sleep
  • Memory
  • Headaches

In the News‎

Scientists are looking into a possible link between cell phone use and certain types of tumor. One type is called an acoustic neuroma ("ah-COOS-tik nur-OH-ma"). This type of tumor grows on the nerve that connects the ear to the brain. It doesn't cause cancer, but it may lead to other health problems, like hearing loss. Another type scientists are looking into is called a glioma ("glee-OH-ma"). This is a tumor found in the brain or central nervous system of the body.


Cell phone tips

To reduce radiofrequency (RF) radiation near your body:

  • Get a hands-free headset that connects directly to your phone.
  • Use speaker-phone more often.

In the past, RF radiation interfered with the operation of some pacemakers. If you have a pacemaker and are concerned about how your cell phone use may affect it, contact your healthcare provider.

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