Are Cell Phones and EMFs Really Harming Your Health?

Cell phone use and EMFs FinalI’ve covered GMOs (twice), organic food, and pesticides. Today, I’m tackling another hot button issue: the dangers (or lack thereof) of modern electronics, specifically mobile devices and the effects of electromagnetic fields (EMFs).

Obviously, the way we use electronics has impacted our lives in both positive and negative ways. Positives include greater dissemination of knowledge, democratization of communication, economic growth, and increased opportunities for people in far-flung locales and otherwise oppressive situations to learn about and impact the world. Without modern electronics, I wouldn’t be able to do what I do and you wouldn’t be able to read this. That’s fairly unassailable.

But from brain cancer to bone loss to sperm mutation to behavioral problems, EMFs (a byproduct of many electronic devices) have been blamed for many health problems. What does the evidence say? And if there are real issues, what can we do to mitigate them? How far should we go?

If you’re already pretty versed in Primal living, you’re probably already familiar with the non-EMF related costs to staying too plugged in:

Too much reliance on digital life, not enough on real life.

Lack of close physical contact. Why meet up for coffee when you can just follow a person on Facebook?

Excessive use of cell phones compromises our posture. The dreaded “text neck.”

Blue light emitted by electronic screens interferes with melatonin secretion at night and disrupts circadian rhythm.

Those drawbacks have more to do with us—how and when we use and rely on technology. It may be hard to disengage from social media and reclaim “real” life, or remind yourself to fix your posture when texting, but nothing physically prevents us. It can be done, and just about everyone agrees that these are real issues with our use of technology.

But what about the physiological ramifications of regular exposure to electronic and magnetic fields emitted by the electronic devices in our lives?

Cell phones and brain cancer

A large new study on brain cancer and cell phones in Australians just released. Researchers examined three decades’ worth of data, looking for correlations between cell phone use and the rate of brain cancer. They didn’t find any. Among men but not women, cell phones were associated with a tiny but insignificant increase in brain cancer. The most notable increase, found in adults aged 70-84, began in 1982—before cell phones even existed.

An even more recent study (PDF) on cell phones and brain cancer with different results has also come out. This one was in rats, but it was a big one with a lot of government money behind it. According to the study’s authors, exposing rats to the type of radio waves typically emitted by mobile phones caused “low incidences” of two kinds of tumors. Low, but not zero. Critics and proponents of the “cell phones cause cancer” idea have both championed it as supportive of their cause.

A few things about the study make me question its relevance.

  • The rat pups were introduced to cell phone radiation in utero. I question the relevance to humans. While pregnant mothers are using smartphones, they’re usually not bathing their unborn in high-powered cell phone radiation.
  • Despite the uptick in cancers, the rats exposed to cell phone radiation actually tended to live about 8% longer than the control rats exposed to none. Could this be a hormetic, adaptive response to radiation? In previous studies, GSM-modulated cell phone radiation has been shown to increase a rat’s resistance to stronger forms of radiation.
  • It’s not the full study. The authors released “partial findings” after getting some notable results. It was still peer reviewed, but full analysis of the data isn’t expected until 2017.
  • These were Sprague-Dawley rats, a lab breed known for high tumor rates (PDF). There’s a reason scientists like using Sprague-Dawley rats—it all but ensures you’ll have some tumors to study. Humans don’t develop tumors with anywhere near the same frequency, so the risk isn’t the same for us.
  • They received full body exposure. They were immersed in the stuff. On humans, exposure is more localized.

All in all, I’m not too worried about brain cancer and cell phones. On the scale of things that kill you, brain cancer is a rare one. Primary brain cancer which starts in the brain and is presumably caused by cell phones is far more rare than metastasized brain cancer which starts elsewhere and spreads to the brain. Except when it isn’t, of course—but that’s true for everything.

Brain cancer isn’t the only thing people worry about. There are other concerns.

Cell phones and bone density

A couple studies have found that keeping your smartphone in your pocket on one side may modestly accelerate hip bone loss on that side.

Compared to people without mobile phones, mobile phone users had lower bone mineral content and bone density in the right trochanter (part of the femur that attaches to the hip).

Another study gathered 150 mobile phone-using men and separated them according to which pocket held their phones. Group 1 wore them on the right side, Group 2 on the left. They looked at bone quality at the right hip, using Group 2 as a non-exposure control.  On average, subjects wore their phones on the hip for 14.7 hours a day. Those with exposure showed signs of slightly degraded bone quality, albeit not as severe as osteoporotic patients.

Cell phones and fertility

Men can vouch for this: our boys are sensitive. They need careful handling, almost coddling. A lot can go wrong down there. So when you ask me to place a consistent source of EMF directly adjacent to them, I wonder if that’s a good idea.

For years, famous strength coach Charles Poliquin has insisted his athletes keep their cell phones out of their pockets to maintain optimal testosterone levels. Tim Ferriss ran an n=1 self-experiment on the effects of carrying a cell phone in his pocket, finding that it definitely degraded his sperm count and quality. Researchers have wondered if the cell phone is modern man’s nemesis (PDF). Studies have found links between time spent carrying a cell phone in your pocket and erectile dysfunction, morphological changes to sperm, and reductions in sperm counts. If you ejaculate then blast the semen with cell phone radiation, oxidative stress levels go up in individual sperm. The truth is that there isn’t a lot of solid research one way or the other. But what we have indicates a real effect.

Cell phones and kids

Kids have thinner everything. Their skulls are softer and thinner. If we’re talking infants and 1-2 year olds, they’re practically made of cartilage (that’s why they don’t break when you drop them). The less hard boney tissue a watt of EMF faces, the deeper it’ll go. Some researchers are invoking the precautionary principle, urging parents to hold off on giving mobile phones to their kids until further research can be done. Other researchers are suggesting that kids’ skulls absorb more cell phone radiation than adults’ skulls.

Mobile phones are consistently linked to worse sleep in kids, causing some folks to wonder if EMF was responsible. One recent study examined this question, determining that while mobile phone usage is strongly linked to sleep problems, it’s probably not the EMF doing it. Residential exposure to EMF had no impact on sleep disturbance; only using a mobile phone in the home did, probably due to excessive light and the fact that it’s pretty hard to sleep when you’re glued to a crappy iPhone game.

Links between cell phone use and ADHD have also been proposed, but I think reverse causality is equally likely. Is little Finn’s iPad shooting radiation into his brain and giving him ADHD, or are Finn’s exhausted parents giving him the iPad to keep him quiet? The researchers report that kids who stopped using cell phones midway through the study had improvements in their symptoms, which at first glance suggests causality. But maybe they stopped using the phones because their symptoms improved and their parents no longer had to resort to the phone. As this was an observational study, not an intervention, we can’t say.

What about unborn kids? Again, observational studies suggest a connection between cell phone exposure in both the prenatal and postnatal period and behavioral problems. But those are observational. They can’t make any causality claims or account for all confounding variables. Moms who are glued to the cell phone may have other characteristics that predispose their kids to behavioral problems.

The effects of all this EMF, if they’re real, are relatively minor on the grand scale of things. Keeping your phone in your pocket might gradually weaken the bone there, but not nearly as much as failing to lift heavy things, walk a lot, get your vitamin D, eat calcium-rich foods, and lead an overall healthy, nutrient-dense lifestyle. While an iPhone beaming directly into your genitals probably isn’t ideal for your sexual health, eating a bad diet, being sedentary, carrying lots of extra weight, avoiding the sun and fresh air in general, and flubbing dozens of other factors is worse.

I suspect there’s something going on. I just don’t think it’s worth stressing about. You can, however, make a few easy changes to mitigate any damage. I’ve bolded what I deem the most significant/least intrusive:

Check the amount of radiation your phone emits. Get one with a low rating if you’re worried.

Put your phone on airplane mode when it’s in your pocket or up against your body. Turn it back on to check it periodically. Unless there’s an emergency, you’ll be fine and won’t miss out on much. Even better, this keeps you from obsessively checking your phone every minute.

Turn off additional transmissions when not in use (bluetooth, wifi, etc).

Don’t leave your phone next to your head, or up against your body when you sleep. Don’t keep it under your pillow. Use airplane mode at night, too.

Pregnant women, keep the phone away from your belly.

Use earbuds, headsets, or the speaker to talk.

Use different sides of the head when talking on the cell phone. Spread the love.

Take breaks. Go camping. Get out into the wild. There are only a few places remaining where we can avoid EMF, and they all happen to be lovely and worth visiting on their own merits.

Limit or avoid screen time for kids. In this day and age, eliminating it is probably more trouble than it’s worth. Just be sure to balance out any screen time with a disproportionate amount of outside, screen-free time. Aim for a 5-1 ratio of real ancestral play to modern tech.

There are also cases and gadgets that claim to reduce radiation absorption, but they all seem to have mixed reviews and the supporting science isn’t very strong. It gets really complicated and expensive really quickly.

I wouldn’t worry too much about all this. These devices are here to stay. They’re fairly integral for doing business and maintaining communication, and used properly they can enhance our engagement with the world. But with just a few quick modifications to how you use electronic devices, you can get the majority of the benefit and reduce any potential health effects.

What do you think, folks? Was I too easy on mobile devices? Too hard? I’m sure I’ll get flack from both sides for this one, but I’m okay with that.

Thanks for reading, everyone.

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About the Author

Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, godfather to the Primal food and lifestyle movement, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Keto Reset Diet. His latest book is Keto for Life, where he discusses how he combines the keto diet with a Primal lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is the author of numerous other books as well, including The Primal Blueprint, which was credited with turbocharging the growth of the primal/paleo movement back in 2009. After spending three decades researching and educating folks on why food is the key component to achieving and maintaining optimal wellness, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real-food company that creates Primal/paleo, keto, and Whole30-friendly kitchen staples.

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81 thoughts on “Are Cell Phones and EMFs Really Harming Your Health?”

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  1. I have a love/hate relationship with my iPhone. This makes me feel a little better! I wear orange goggles when I use it before bed, and I make a huge effort not to check it constantly when I am out walking, and instead enjoy the scenery, and spend time looking far off into the distance (as Mark told us to do last week!). So for now I will focus on the positives…my phone allows me to check in on my friends, to take goofy pics for my blog and Instagram whenever the mood strikes, and to learn new things (like I am doing right now reading MDA!)

  2. I thought cell phone radiation was not only low level but non-ionizing so that it doesn’t have much effect on cells.

  3. Interesting. I’ve had the recommendation to put my phone on “Airplane mode” when going to sleep. I wasn’t sure if there was any solid evidence behind it. But I suppose it’s worth a shot (even if only to stop the temptation of using it too late at night).

    1. I do it primarily to save on battery and not get woken by any alert.

  4. Taking breaks by getting away from EMFs (and other distractions altogether) is something we all probably need more of.

  5. I’ll keep lifting heavy things, eating Primal, and getting in Primal movement. And if I have a little weakening of my left hip, I think I’ll manage, since everything else should be in tip top shape. 🙂

  6. I use the headphones or speaker when making calls as much as possible. I hardly ever put the phone to my head anymore.

    1. When all this hoopla about cell phone radiation first came about, I recall reading somewhere (sorry, no time to research at the moment) that using ear buds, headsets, etc. makes things worse since you’re giving the radiation a direct line, so to speak, through those accessories. I’m not a big cell phone user, but when I do use it, I never put it to my ear but always keep it on speaker.

      Considering this updated information (thanks, Mark), this may all be a moot point, but it’s at least good to know (again, I don’t have the most current thinking on this, but I’ll try to look into it) what’s being claimed. These days, I take a lot more with a grain of salt (Celtic, that is)…

      And…I stay faithful to the Paleo lifestyle — if that doesn’t count, nothing does!!

  7. The fertility one is definitely a bit unnerving, especially since I spend a lot of time with a laptop resting atop my, ahem, loins, which I’m sure only adds insult to injury. I know there are special radiation blocking products. But maybe I should just make sure to keep the laptop on my standing desk, where it belongs!

  8. Non-ionizing radiation. If you are concerned things like cell phone radiation are causing any damage, then I have news for you. Many many other things inside your home and outside your home including the sun (I’m talking visible light, not UVA/UVB), the soil beneath your feet, and your conventional oven emit much much more powerful high energy radiation than your cell phone. Ask a physicist if he’s the slightest bit worried about ill health effects from a cell phone.

    1. Conventional oven? How so? Unless you’re referring to low-frequency (60hz) energy, in which case everything in a modern household is a culprit.

      You didn’t mention microwave ovens, however, which emit energy in the same frequency bands as cell phones.

      But I agree with your premise – there are many, many other things people are exposed to every day that have much higher likelyhood of causing health issues). (Pesticides with your veggies, ma’am?)

    2. This is exactly right. I am a chemist and my students always ask me about cell phones along with other urban myths like microwaves. Such low level radiation is no where close to damaging biological systems, it annoys me how much hype there is when there is no concern over this stuff. Such nonsense. The sun is more damaging, and we even seek that out in modest amounts as Primal folk. You need to be scared of excessive UV, X-rays, etc, not your microwaved coffee and cell phone.

      1. You might want to read a little book called “The Body Electric” by Robert Becker before you dismiss microwave and cell phone level radiation damage to biological systems as urban myths. Becker spent decades studying and researching and doing experiments in this field. I’ll take his findings over your purported chemist perspective everyday of the week. To summarize he found that it’s the ELF and lower frequency range which interferes with important cellular processes in the body–not the higher frequency radiation that you say is the only types to fear. I pity your students that accept your answers as gospel merely because you present yourself as a scientific authority, nevermind that you have neither spent the decades to research the subject nor spent the efforts to do and/or attempt to replicate the experiments as Robert Becker did. I hope you at least tell your students to do their own research and make up their own minds as to separating what you may think is fact from what is merely an opinion, and from your comment, likely a ill-informed opinion at that. I urge others to read “The Body Electric” and do their own research and come to their own conclusions. Research things like ELF, Piezoelectricity of Bone, and how Salamanders regenerate for starters.

  9. Great article. Sometimes it’s hard to tease out what would be the effects from EMFs vs. using the technology in general. But the bone density/oxidative stress in sperm examples seem to indicate something (albeit not too dramatic). But keeping away from your phone a bit more is probably good advice in general–just for a little extra focus/less multitasking if nothing else.

  10. I’ve used the “Moment” app on my iPhone which basically tells you how often you use your phone… sort of scary how often we use them! There is a free version and I suggest at least trying it out. It does suck battery power but if you use your phone less, since you’re tracking it, it will all balance out.

  11. I have always been concerned about the radiation coming from new age technology and cell phones. Although we are exposed to radiation daily that are are levels similar or greater than the cell phones emit, I have always wondered if the greater dependence on phones will have an effect on disease rates in the future. I enjoyed this exploratory analysis.

  12. I figure the most potential for health problems using a cell phone is texting and driving or texting and walking down the hall and running your head into the wall… Dain Bramage!!

  13. Now I’m GLAD to know that leaving my cell phone at home, and letting voice mail do my dirty work is more beneficial besides allowing me some privacy from the prying eyes of the NSA and Verizon. Sure, they may be able to track down where my phone is, but ME PERSONALLY?

    If brain tumors from cell phones were a real life-and-death problem, they’d all have been recalled by now.

    1. Absolutely true – given the number of cell phones and users (and hours of use) over the last 20 years, if there were significant risks we’d be seeing massive numbers of health issues showing up.

      1. Unless of course there is some unexpected evolutionary processes going on that we don’t yet see manifesting…

        1. And how long did it take them to figure out cigarettes were causing cancer? Pesticides? Living next to power stations? Etc. The big companies knew and were hiding the info.from the public in the case of the cigs, and probably in the other cases too. I’m gonna take a wild guess that the cell phone companies are doing the same thing. Profit above the public good. 20 years is really not that long of time. Lower sperm counts and loss of bone density? Harmless huh?

  14. Don’t know what to say about this one-agreed that we pretty much (most of us) need to use our devices often (work) whether its a good idea or not, welcome to life as we know it.

  15. The phone radiation itself I’m not sure causes cancer, but the EMF can cause a whole world of hurt.

    Anyone whose ever felt agitated, lethargic, and run down will usually feel better once they separate themselves from their cell phone and get out of wifi range.

    1. Brian, EMF (Electromagnetic Field) and radiation are two words describing the same thing. There is no difference.

      Your statement is pure conjecture. Unless you know something that most of us don’t, and Mark didn’t find, you are MSU’ing. Making Stuff Up.

  16. Since that recent Aussie paper is pay-walled, did it happen to zoom down to side-of-head in the brain cancer cases?

    And for those considering the theoretical aspects of this, whether the radiation is ionizing or not is primarily of interest to those who subscribe to the somatic (gene, DNA disruption) theory of cancer.

    On the metabolic theories (Warburg, Seyfried, and even moreso with Kruse), the RF only needs to be strong enough to cause heating or just bias chemistry a bit at the quantum level.

    Bottom line: I don’t see anything in the base article here to disagree with. The wider issue for the general public might be that any cell/cancer risk is pretty small compared to the threat posed by their full-time glycemic and inflammatory consensus diets, and pervasive circadian disruptions.

  17. Finally a sensible article about cellphones.

    But I’m not a user, so it’s not a concern of mine. Yes, you read right, I don’t use one…I have one in my car for emergencies, but I don’t need one, nor want one on or near my person – as I seem gifted with the ability to run my life without one. And in no way have I missed out on anything, or experienced the associated fear -FMO – that so many people talk about. And I run my own thriving business – all without a smartphone. Crazy, right!?!?

    The reality is the cellphone never fulfilled a true need, but instead the product came along and the Grand wizards of marketing created the needs.

    1. +1. I don’t own a smart phone, don’t need one, don’t want one on my person. As toys go, it’s one that doesn’t interest me. I rarely even use my antiquated flip phone. Most of the time I leave it in the cup holder of my car as road insurance.

    2. My husband and I also don’t use them–just one pay-as-you-go phone to use when traveling. We thought this might be possible only because we’re academics, but it’s really encouraging to hear that even someone running a thriving business can live without a cell phone!

      1. Thanks.

        As to the business, I realized a long time ago that it’s MY business not my clients. I’m not on call 24/7 for anyone…except family. But even they know my “personal office hours” . 😉

        1. In a past life, I owned and operated my own business and had time for a bit of entertainment on the weekends. I love to BBQ and I would invite a dozen or so friends out to my country home to “greet and eat” sessions which became almost habit forming as the summers progressed.

          It would drive the ladies quite crazy when I would be in a discussion with a group of friends and the land line would ring inside the house. I never paid much attention to it when entertaining and would never interrupt a conversation to answer it. …….. NEVER! I always told friends that “I know with whom I am talking here on this deck, I have no idea who is on the other end of that phone. If it’s important, they’ll leave a message or call back and, if it isn’t, then I haven’t deliberately insulted my friends here by breaking our discussion to go in and talk life insurance or college funding for my already grown kids with a stranger!!”

          Gotta admit, I was never challenged on that rationale ……………….

  18. One other point I take a little bit of issue with…the notion that knowledge is being more disseminated. Uh…on a truly base level, okay, sure…but having access to data
    Is not making people more knowledgeable, certainly not wiser, as it’s clear enough simply looking up a fact is not learning anything meaningful and the majority of people are seeking out info they agree with…even if the information is patently false, or in other words propaganda.

    Which is veryoften true with those people who view their dietary choices as virtuous. They too often refuse to look at even simple information that contradicts their dogma.

    So the internet and the promulgtaton of mobile devices to access it, has not necessarily made us more knowledgeable, just more prone to finding information that agrees with us. Which is not my definition of becoming more knowledgeable.

    1. I beg to differ. I won’t list all the things that I’ve learned thanks to internet but I will certainly tell you that I’ve learned English. Like really learn English, because what my compulsory education left me with was really far from bilingualism.

      1. That’s great. I didn’t mean no one and nothing is ever truly learned, or that real knowledge is not gained…I have. I was focusing more on the larger picture at how the access to data doesn’t necessarily mean people become more knowledgeable. Some studies are showing that while Google helps people find facts, I’ll call them data points, they are not retaining them nor are they actually learning anything meaningful as the data points are all out of context. Outside a learning experience…where how that fact was discoveredleads to knowledge, not just a trvia expertise.

        We pretty much know that memorizing facts, data points, doesn’t lead to understanding of them. And it certainly doesn’t promote the intellectual thinking processes, critical thinking, etc…

        Many of us might know the Trivial Pursuit or Jeopardy master, but also know they might not be the brightest bulb on the tree, or a critical thinker.

        But congrats on your new language skills! I’m jealous…other languages are my Kryptonite.

  19. Tom, I’m with you. NO cell phone for us either! I think they are very intrusive. Yikes, you can’t go grocery shopping without overhearing everyone else’s phone conversations! Many/most of us grew up without them and got along just fine. People *waited* to talk to us either because they waited until we were home, or left a message on a machine and waited until we called back. Now no one seems capable of waiting; everything has to be “right now”.

    But, Mark, I wish you’d addressed WiFi. That we do have & the router is in our bedroom. Can’t unplug it at night or we’d have no phone service (if there were an emergency). I have Lyme disease and my Lyme-literate doc thinks EMF plays a role in Lyme symptoms, especially neurological ones. Would love your take on other types of EMF exposure.

    1. So sorry to hear about your Lyme. I believe you are right on regarding impacts of Lyme and wireless. Honestly, I would unplug your router at night, even if you don’t have phone. You need that resting time to heal, not get buzzed by your router. I have communicated with many independent researchers in the last few months in relation to penalty-free smart meter opt-out the last few months, and there is no doubt in my mind that radiofrequencies can exacerbate your challenges.

  20. Between fertility and the butt-dialing 911 problem, man-bags have GOT to come back into fashion. I implore you, do it for the boys! 😀

    1. Never! The man bag is akin to the man-bun. Both a pox on malehood!


  21. I think it was I pretty balanced article, and I certainly appreciate the sensible opinion about ADHD and cell phone usage.

    As for cell phones not existing in 1982, technically they did. The first phone call made on a prototype cellular phone was made on April 3, 1973 on DynaTAC 8000X, though they weren’t commercially available until 1983.

  22. There is a compelling interview with Daniel DeBaun on Bulletproof radio podcasts (#315) about this topic. I’m choosing to err on the side of caution especially when it comes to my kids and the infinitely more exposure they will have over a lifetime than I will. I purchased the defender shields.

  23. It’s like you’re reading my mind when I see your latest post title in my inbox! I appreciate the topics of discussion here more than you know. Thanks again Mark!

  24. “Are Cell Phones and EMFs Really Harming Your Health?”

    Yes they are … if you’re really stressed out about the topic. Stress is VERY harmful to your health.

  25. I don’t know why…. but my thighs hurt if i keep my laptop on my lap. And whatever side I keep my phone tends to have tiny random little pains and tightness. Though, I do agree that there are bigger issues to handle first.

  26. I absolutely love the new “sunset” setting for iphones, that at least helps to address the blue light. Now I just wish Android would follow suit. My fiance insists on playing with his Android phone in bed while I’m reading at night…

  27. This article is about mobile phones and that is fair enough. But bigger questions arise when you look at cellphone towers and their EMF’s and also the issue of dirty electricity and its relationship to diabetes, autism, and a range of cancers.

  28. I follow this guy about his comments and then do significant background research to validate his thoughts. So far prudence is important.

    Also, I go to know (not .com), they have a ton of research on EMF, not just cell phones, but also dirty electricity coming from wiring behind the walls. (now this kind of emf does affect manhood).

  29. In my opinion, cell phones and EMF’s are not harmless – at least not for the growing numbers of sensitive folks like me. I have chronic fatigue issues and extended exposure to cell phones, WIFI and EMF’s give me brain fog and aggravate my fatigue issues. I appreciate your analysis Mark, but I don’t think the last chapter has been written on this issue. Not by a long shot.

    1. Unless you’ve done a lot of directed, blind testing I suspect something more like hypochondria. Not trying to be unkind. Good luck.

      1. Sorry, but it IS unkind when you make a statement like that to someone whom you know very little about.

        1. So what do think the right course of action is, Diane? Do you support people living in delusional states? Would you rather the poster continue to believe what is scientifically unproven and probably, impossible vs. getting some help that will do something beneficial? I don’t have to know him/her to be able to know it’s bullshit. If someone believes that their tap water will flow uphill, I call bullshit.

          I have a long history on this forum of not supporting unscientific or inaccurate beliefs. If one gets offended with the truth, look within, not at the messenger.

        2. One of the things that folks need to keep in mind is that just because it isn’t scientifically proven doesn’t mean it isn’t happening. The wireless and electrical industries suppress the information, but there is an army of highly credentialed government and academic researchers who are working to get what they know out to the world.

  30. And then there are a whole lot of tech factors that Mark didn’t touch on.

    Cell phones in the US operate in several bands. The new very low 700mhz, the legacy 800mhz of the old, early carriers like Verizon and ATT&T, and the 1900mhz PCS bands that all others use. Then there are data bands, some @ 1700mhz, others running at 2100-2300mhz. So what, you ask?

    The higher the frequency, the more likely it is to cause cell damage. Hold you hand in front of a large coil pulsing at 60 hz, and nothing happens. Hold it in your microwave……………

    Then there is the matter of transmitting power. When you are close to a tower, the latter turns down the power that your phone needs to communicate. It saves battery capacity. And the opposite is, true of course. Farmer Brown with a one bar connection is getting a lot more radiation than his friend in town.

    No one here, including Mark, has brought up the Law of Inverse Squares that applies to all radiation. Light, microwaves, radio, everything. It is this: If you double the distance from your source, the power received goes down by a factor of four. Triple it, 1/9th the power. So, if your brain is getting X amount of radiation after traversing your 1/4″ thick skull (I’m estimating), Move the phone away an inch, and your brain receives 1/16th radiation. Your wifi transmitter puts out a LOT more power than your cell phone, but usually the distance from it to you is at least several feet, often many.

    I bring that up only to show how many confounders are possible when trying to research this. What frequency? How often? How close to the tower, and how often? How much of the time is it on is it in active mode? When your phone is just waiting for a call, it stops any connection to the tower for a few seconds, then it wakes up and says, “Yo! Quick nap, here I am. I’ll check back in a few seconds.” Another way to save your battery.

    There are a hell of a lot more unhealthy things out there than the low levels of cellular radiation. I would say a far great problem is device addiction. Do you own your phone or does it own you?

    1. +1 regarding device addiction. I see it every day: distraught, overwound people who can’t seem to leave their cell phone alone no matter what the situation. This sort of thing speaks to mental problems, not radiation.

    2. Thank you Mark for this analysis, and OnTheBayou for further information to research, both are much appreciated.

      1. Yes, I hope I didn’t come across as critical of Mark. He provided a great service with limitations of space and what he wouldn’t know unless he’d been poking around radio for a half century, like me.

        Interesting how there are those who reject his conclusion because…..well, just because. Gotta worry about something, I guess. Not me.

  31. FWIW, a technical note: switching airplane mode on and off all the time will

    a) drain your battery faster (compared to not using it but leaving connections on) and
    b) give you an extra does of radiation.

    Both follows because for connecting, phones (need to) blare with full power. Later, they know how far away the counterpart station is and can use targetted transmisson powers. That handshake is expensive!

    I don’t have numbers, and they’ll probably vary from phone to phone. You can run your own experiments by observing battery usage; if you drain it faster by switching off and on, you’re probably creating more radiation as well.

  32. Great topic, but I think you’re being much too easy on cell phones and not considering the massive evidence of harm that has been accumulating. Just for starters is the disturbing association between cell phone microwave radiation and breast cancer.

    2013. John West et al. “Multifocal Breast Cancer in Young Women with Prolonged Contact between Their Breasts and Their Cellular Phones.” Case Reports in Medicine. Volume 2013, Article ID 354682, 5 pages.

  33. Thank you for the article. It’s nice to have a practical view and doable ideas regarding minimizing risk. After all, the stress of worrying about cell phone toxicity will raise cortisol levels and possibly cause more damage than the EMFs emitted by cell phones!

    1. I think cortisol is exactly the thing being missed here, and not just the cortisol from “stressing out” from worry. The most consistent effect I’ve seen in studies is the stress hormone and sympathetic nervous system impact of being constantly bombarded by excess, non-native frequencies ( Not being able to get into rest and recover mode is going to create a problem.

      I would agree that it’s good not to get overly stressed about the issue and make the situation worse, but I think all the measures mentioned in terms of using airplane mode, turning off WiFi when not needed, and getting out in nature frequently to refresh are very prudent and worthwhile. It’s not a thermal or ionizing effect, but it does have other biological implications.

  34. Hi Mark. Good article but you miss the mark, so to speak. Cell phones are one part of a larger EMF health-related problem. I am working on the related issue of penalty-free smart meter opt-out in my home state, I have learned a ton, and I have connected with some of the world’s leading independent researchers, who have been very gracious to help me out. This issue is much more complex and there is without a doubt harm caused by EMFs from cell phones and other wireless devices. I can connect you with Dr. David Carpenter (David O. Carpenter is a public health physician who serves as director of the Institute for Health and the Environment, a Collaborating Center of the World Health Organization, as well as a professor of environmental health sciences at U Albany’s School of Public Health.), Dr. Magda Havas (Magda Havas is Associate Professor of Environmental & Resource Studies at Trent University where she teaches and does research on the biological effects of environmental contaminants. Dr. Havas received her Ph.D. from the University of Toronto, completed Post-Doctoral research at Cornell University, and taught at the University of Toronto before going to Trent University in Peterborough, Canada.) and others who will explain the larger picture and its intricacies.

    Further the United States Access Board, a federal agency, recognizes there are health-related impacts and states: The United States Access Board states that:

    The Board recognizes that multiple chemical sensitivities and electromagnetic sensitivities may be considered disabilities under the ADA if they so severely impair the neurological, respiratory or other functions of an individual that it substantially limits one or more of the individual’s major life activities. The Board plans to closely examine the needs of this population, and undertake activities that address accessibility issues for these individuals.

    The Board plans to develop technical assistance materials on best practices for accommodating individuals with multiple chemical sensitivities and electromagnetic sensitivities. The Board also plans to sponsor a project on indoor environmental quality. In this project, the Board will bring together building owners, architects, building product manufacturers, model code and standard-setting organizations, individuals with multiple chemical sensitivities and electromagnetic sensitivities, and other individuals. This group will examine building design and construction issues that affect the indoor environment, and develop an action plan that can be used to reduce the level of chemicals and electromagnetic fields in the built environment.

    Other federal agencies recognize problems related to wildlife as well.

    Finally, the wireless industry influence on this debate is unbelievable. You can learn more about the larger issue here:

    And you can see the industry influence here:

    Again, this is a critical issue. I have been gently read the riot act by a Harvard educated, highly credentialed physicist who worked in the President’s office, an amazing researcher from the Karolinska Institute, where the Nobel Prize for medicine is awarded, and others because I have a kid and have not yet killed the wireless router in my house, even though I turn it off at night.

    For those who are concerned about cell phones, you are better to turn them off at night and not store them on your bodies.

    I will be glad to assist you in obtaining independent, non-industry research and put you in touch with the researchers who are fighting the good fight, so please email if you are interested.

    Thank you for all you do and for reading to this lengthy comment.

    1. Laura, I appreciate your passion and am always ready to learn something, even if contrary to what I’ve held. I read the first couple of pages of the paper you co-authored (not exactly an unbiased source) and the other link.

      Can +/- 2000mhz radiation effect one’s health? Using this blog item as reference, I’d say it’s pretty hard to conclusively say “Yes.” Perhaps in certain situations, but what? And if the effects are subtle, how do we conclusively prove the link? And what if there is deemed to be an issue, but it impacts, say, 1% of the population? Do we spend billions modifying our technologies to save, say, 100 cancer deaths a year?

      Everything in life has risks. And here, we don’t even know, conclusively, that there is an EMF risk at all. It’s certainly worth continuing spending money to research it, I’ll grant you that.

      Did you read my comments above regarding the tech issues about cell phones?

      1. Thank you for reading all of that. I appreciate your thoughts, but the issue is bigger still. The letter I authored is biased in favor of non-industry scientists, so I will agree there is a bias.

        The point is that cancer is one small part of the issue. Electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EHS) is a growing concern, with non-industry, highly credentialed university experts estimating that 3 – 10% of the population is affected. The symptoms are all over the board when it comes to EHS.

        I am not an expert on RF (radiofrequency), which is why I have help from folks at Harvard, Trent U, Albany U (WHO) and the Karolinska Institute in Sweden.

        Regarding what should be done? Those who are EHS avoid places with RF. Those who want to use a cell phone should. Those who want wireless in their homes should have it. I am not suggesting radical changes, but want people to understand that their insolvable insomnia could be related to RF, their cell phone, their wireless router or their smart meter, for example. If a person falls into that 3 – 10 percent, then they can at least have a new path to pursue.

  35. What about smartwatches? Those are “attached” nearly all the time.

  36. 2 people close to me died from brain tumours and were excessive cell phone users. I don’t need to be connected every second so I almost never carry one. I believe they are more damaging than they are given credit for. Multi billion dollar industries put self serving, bs science out there for us to read as if it were true. Lots of things to avoid, I think cell phones should not be that close to your brain for hours a day. 2 anacdote cases proves nothing, but a possability.

    1. I’m glad you recognize that your experience is anecdotal. There is no way of knowing if the cell phone use initiated or helped the brain tumors. Even a “heavy” cell phone user probably wouldn’t have the phone by his/her head more than five or six hours a day, if that.

      Did you read my comments above about technical matters that effect both the attempts at looking for health connections?

      Don’t forget, the “close ones” you lost probably had a whole host of other behaviors and habits in common, yet we don’t say that one or more of those other habits were responsible for a health issue. There are men who get breast cancer, and there are non-smokers that get lung cancer.

  37. I don’t have a any cellphones or wireless phones and I shut down my Wi-Fi at night but I’m conscious that it’s not worth much because I have plenty of neighbours really close. Plus the smart meter, the microwave and anything really. We just can’t escape it so it’s interesting to read that it could have a hormetic effect.

    I have to admit, right now, it’s BPA that stresses me more than EMF. Maybe wrongly, I don’t know.

  38. I agree with you on the bayou that you cannot pinpoint cause of the cancer. We are exposed to so many environmental toxins from food, water, air and countless others that there is no way to be sure of cause. 2 people with nothing in common, except excessive phone use is a red flag to look at, that is all. These 2 cancers were not a metastasis from another cancer. I don’t advise people anymore to avoid processed food and soft drinks to fix the obvious problems they have, so I wouldn’t do that with the phones either. I do get amused by the constant texting (far enough from your head based on the inverse square law forementioned) and phone use. Most people are addicted and can’t even shut it off when they are driving. At least a drunk driver is trying to drive. I think texters cause more accidents than drunks. Sorry getting off topic. I don’t know how they work. The signal the phone receives is weak and nothing to worry about, but when the phone is transmitting, that is, in my opinion, too powerfull to be inches from your brain. Does the phone have constant contact with the nearest tower, I don’t know. Some people wear them on their ear. All you really need on your ear is a mic and speaker. You could keep the transmitter away from your head and reproductive organs easily. I live in the mountains far from em pollution. In the city, you have more of it constantly. I still have wifi and microvawe and other forms in my house. I still get dental xrays anually. I spend a lot of time in the sun outdoors. Like my wife says, you still live in this world. Do the best you can. If you eat right, your body can cope with alot. I might suggest including spirulina and chlorella (we call it pond scum) as a supplement. Include miso soup and the brassica vegetables (cabbage family) in your diet. These can help protect you from radiation damage.

  39. As my brother-in-law said, “Well, what’d you rather die of, a plague of rats or a plague of iPhones?”. I thought it was funny.

  40. Dr. Jack Kruse. Surprised he hasn’t come up in the comments. Just read his Michael Jackson stuff If you don’t want to dive deeper.

  41. There are thousands of papers showing the dangers of wireless.
    Here is a recent article.
    At the bottom Olle Johansson PHD says, “From a public health point of view no more research is needed. The proofs in the form of thousands and thousands of peer review-based scientific publications are overwhelming. ” If you have been following the non industry funded research you would know this as truth. It is now clear and obvious. It is only the industry and research linked to the industry that suggests otherwise. This is exactly what happened with cigarette smoking.
    If you are new to the area you could check out the Bioinitiative report backed by many scientists. Devra Davis and Magda Havis, have done much research. Dr Erica Mallery-Blyth has good utubes.
    Lloyd Burrell at Electricsense has a good website where he interviews experts regularly. It is a helpful site for those wanting to learn more and take preventative action and for those already feeling the effects.
    It horrifies me that pregnant women place their smart phones on their bellies radiating their babies to be because the industry continues to deny cause and affect, putting alot of money into research to show this. Look up Peter Sullivans website. He had 2 kids with autism. He took the wifi out and they are now kids without autism. He also provide links to a lot of research. There is research onf the affects in utero and there is correlations between phone use and a range of problems now with kids, besides the infertility issues. I have heard horror stories-1 small kid slept with a ipad under his pillow. He died from inoperable brain cancer. 1 boy was due for heart surgery until a knowledgeable person heard the story on radio, contacted them and suggested they turn the wifi off. They did and he did not need the surgery.
    It is really worth being educated about this topic.

  42. Look up U.S. patent 6506148 and get some real insight on what cell pnones and our wifi are really doing and my cell phone emits the lowest amount of emf out of everything besides my router in my house….look the patent up to find out why, what else can they do theoufh fhis?????

  43. What happened to the Primal Blueprint core ideology = if we didn’t evolve with it’s likely to be harmful (or at least need to be screwtinized closely).

    Mark’s lazy fatalism and pre-determined conclusion is disheartening. Low power, non-ionizing, modulated and polarized microwave EMFs are harmful to your biology. If you doubt it head to pubmed rather than rely on canned dismissals and opinions. Yes, the epidemiology studies are mixed – welcome to health research. And they are influenced by industry – welcome to health research. The animal studies are conclusive. I’m not a rat but if it affects rat brains, rat hormones and rat testes it’s enough of a threat for me to take seriously.

    FCC regulations are not protecting you. If you’re on MDA I’m guessing you’ve learned not to trust the FDA, USDA, AMA, AHA … Is it such a stretch to add FCC to the list?

  44. Very well explained Mark I really find it interesting how you manage to keep writing such useful articles.

  45. I’m chiming in here a bit late, but the problem isn’t really about using your own cellphone. It’s about the wireless energy present in the environment. Most of us are indeed bathing in it constantly.