FDA Says Data Doesn’t Link Cell Phones to Cancer

By Karolina Wilk, staff writer

As we try to stay connected to work, friends, and family while social distancing, we’re reaching for our cell phones more often—but is there any reason to worry? The best evidence says no.

The Food & Drug Administration’s recent scientific literature review concludes that “the weight of nearly 30 years of scientific evidence has not linked exposure to RF [radio frequency] energy from use of cell phones to health problems, such as cancer.” These findings corroborate other, previous reviews with similar conclusions.

Ionizing vs. non-ionizing radiation
Ionizing radiation, used for things like X-rays and radiation therapy, can break chemical bonds and cause cellular and DNA damage, leading to cancer. But ionizing radiation carries more than a billion times more energy than the non-ionizing radio frequency emissions found in day-to-day devices.

Cell phone safety precautions
Cell phones can pose other health problems you might not have considered, like musculoskeletal issues due to injury from frequently bending your neck and overusing your thumbs. To prevent injury, UCLA Health recommends a few easy changes, like correcting your spinal alignment by holding your phone at eye level and alternating the use of your fingers and thumbs to text.

Meanwhile, due to COVID-19, it may be best to leave your phone in your pocket or handbag—or better yet, your car—while running errands. If you can’t do that, make sure to clean and disinfect it regularly, following the manufacturer’s instructions. Phones are considered a “frequently touched surface” by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and can be a source of germs.

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