Are cell phones bad for your health?

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Is using a cell phone bad for your health. In the first of a two-parter, Risk Bites looks at the chances of your phone giving you brain cancer (spoiler alert: not a lot). Next time — the more worrisome risk of your phone placing you in a life or death situation.
Note: The video refers to the World Health Organization review of cell phones and potential to cause cancer that was released in 2011. This study was conducted by the International Association for Research on Cancer (IARC) — IARC is a WHO specialized agency.

This week’s Risk Bites team:
David Faulkner (Script, post-production)
Andrew Maynard (all the other stuff)

Useful resources:

World Health Organization: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs193/en/

National Cancer Institute information on cell phones and cancer risk: http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Risk/cellphones

Carcinogenicity of radiofrequency electromagnetic fields. Baan et al.
The Lancet Oncology (2011) Volume 12, Issue 7, Pages 624-626
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S1470-2045(11)70147-4

Cell Phones, Cancer, and Children, Boyce and Tarone. J Natl Cancer Inst (2011) 103 (16): 1211-1213. http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/jnci/djr285

Mobile phone use and glioma risk: comparison of epidemiological study results with incidence trends in the United States. Little et al. BMJ (2012); 344 http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.e1147

Challenging cell phone impact on reproduction: A Review. Mehri, Z. O. Journal of Assisted Reproduction and Genetics (2012), Volume 29, Issue 4, pp 293-297 http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10815-012-9722-1

IARC Classifies Radiofrequency Electromagnetic Fields As Possibly Carcinogenic To Humans (IARC press release): http://www.iarc.fr/en/media-centre/pr/2011/pdfs/pr208_E.pdf

Classification of agents in IARC monographs: http://monographs.iarc.fr/ENG/Classification/ClassificationsGroupOrder.pdf

ITU Global Technology Development figures, 2012: http://www.itu.int/net/pressoffice/press_releases/2012/70.aspx#.USgB9R3OuuI

Xkcd (just for fun!) http://xkcd.com/925/

Risk Bites is supported by:
University of Michigan School of Public Health. http://www.sph.umich.edu/
University of Michigan Risk Science Center. http://umriskcenter.org

Help us caption & translate this video!

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19 Responses to Are cell phones bad for your health?

  1. Amir Amir says:

    WHO isn't exactly trustworthy. There is proof that cellphones and wifi causes brain tumor and since it all is about economic intrests, they choose to hide the result from the public. So whenever they ask "experts" they are pre paid puppets to give us false information.

  2. 13x60 says:

    If there is a researcher reading this and is convinced that cellphones aren't harmful to the human body, i'll bet my life on it that I can prove to them in a matter of minutes that it is harmful to some ppl  – I can't speak for everyone, but I know some ppl are very sensitive to electronic radiation. I am one of them.

  3. Vanderson Tonus Junior says:

    HAHAHAHAHAHA, loved the format of this vid. Thanks for the easy digest info :)

  4. NUNA CUTIE says:

    FIRST RESERCHERS SAY THAT THE MOBILE PHONES VIBRATION IS BAD FOR YOUR HEALTH BUT ACTUALLY THEY HAVENT PROVE THAT UNTIL NOW CAN U BELIVE IT !!!

  5. Calamaistr says:

    Sadly noone seems to care or were on a slippery slope right now, this lack of developement in a complete generation will be the death of civilisation. It is the disinterest and the permissive to everything attitude already heavily noticeable in everyday life that cripples any hope for it. I personally dont own a cellphone and havent for 16 years, yes you read that right. And im not socially handicapped, on the contrary.. im very social toward people and i recognice people that are the most socially incapable are those that are the most preoccupied with their pocketinternet.

  6. JustlenaForever says:

    Okay, tbh I don't eat my phones. I mean, have you licked that silver? Bwah! Tastes like metal. But no ones eaten their phone yet so.. HOW DO YOU KNOW IF ITS HEALTHY OR NOT

  7. 00zeronian says:

    This is surely the worst video I have ever seen. I am sure that I have lost several IQ points by subjecting myself to such utter nonsense.

  8. Sergio Malik says:

    You are LIER ! Good job!

  9. andy530i says:

    Utter rubbish _ how much are they paying you?

  10. amozoness6 says:

    depends on how near you hold it, how bright, and for how long you stare. you could say the same of the sun, the horizon, books, or your computer monitor.

  11. Paolo Benini says:

    I HAVE REPORTS I HAVE INFO AND YOU FUCKKNG IPHONE USERS DESERVE TO THROW THEM IN HE BIN! Because people are dying to make them in china work labour is 1000x harder and incidents happen everyday and people die!!!! FUCK YOU SAMSUNG ANDROID APPLE

  12. thedude0980 says:

    If you've done so much research, then perhaps you should present that information instead of bellowing and swearing.

    Or perhaps you've forgotten the function the "Caps lock" key, in which case, you might do well to do "much research" on how to turn it off.

  13. Risk Bites says:

    @Yuoskalola – if you have legitimate reports, send me the links and I'll add them to the extensive list of reports above if they appear credible.

  14. Sleep13 says:

    I GUARANTEE THIS VIDEO IS PUT OUT BY CELL PHONE COMPANIES
    THEY DO CAUSE CANCER AND OTHER BAD STUFF
    I HAVE DONE MUCH RESEARCH ON IT
    THIS VIDEO AND ANY OTHER ONE PROBABLY PUT OUT BY THIS SHILL ARE BULLSHIT

  15. Sleep13 says:

    YOU'RE A LIER THERE ARE COUNTRIES THAT ACTUALLY BAN CHILDREN FROM USING THEM BECAUSE THEY CAUSE CANCER AND HAVE OTHER BAD EFFECTS
    I HAVE SEEN THE REPORTS
    LIER

  16. friebender says:

    What about the myth that handies make you impotant, when you wear them in your pocket for a periode of time? Is that one true?

  17. Risk Bites says:

    Thanks Maria!

  18. Maria Saraiva says:

    Riskbites have been wonderfull tool to help in teaching epidemiology to my students! This is marvelous!

  19. Andrew Powell says:

    Whenever I watch American youtubers drive, I'm astounded that they aren't afraid they'll get pulled over. Then I remember its only Canada that made using your phone while driving illegal. To me its just silly not to have that law.