Can Cellphones Really Give You Cancer?

Some people think Senator Kennedy’s cellphone caused it.

He was diagnosed last year with a malignant “glioma,” a kind of brain cancer specifically considered a risk for cellphone users.

Should you be worried?

The truth is, cellphones have not been around long enough to give us the kind of long-term studies we really need to know for sure.

And the research is conflicting. Some studies show no increased risk. So I’m not ready to tell my readers and patients that cellphones definitely cause cancer. The FDA says, “The available scientific evidence does not show that any health problems are associated with using wireless phones.” But they then add, “There is no proof, however, that wireless phones are absolutely safe.”

Some of the most up-to-date research suggests that there is some cause for concern. Here’s what I know:

• Researchers in Israel found last year that people who used cellphones heavily experienced a 58 percent increase in “parotid tumors” – a cancer of the saliva gland near the ear.

• Another study last year, this one out of Sweden, concluded that cellphone users are 10 times more likely to develop benign cancers of the ear and brain.

• Several animal studies have found that the kind of radiation cellphones use can damage DNA in brain cells. Damaged DNA is one of the things that can turn healthy cells into cancer cells.

Cellphones use microwaves called “radio frequency radiation” (RF) to transmit signals. Their antennae emit most of the RF, and since you’re holding the phone right next to your ear most of the time, a lot of it penetrates the brain – as much as 60 percent, according to some studies.

Depending on the size of your head and the amount of radiation coming from the specific type of phone you use, you may be literally “cooking” your brain. RF energy can potentially cause the temperature of your brain tissue to rise slightly.

To protect yourself from any potential risk from cellphone RF, here are a few guidelines:

• Keep cellphone calls short.

• Go with a “hands-free” headset or a speakerphone. These keep the cellphone from direct contact with your head.

• Don’t carry your cellphone in your chest or hip pocket. Even when in “standby” mode, cellphones continue to emit radiation, exposing whichever part of your body is closest.

• When using a hands-free headset, let the wire extend fully between your head and the phone. This distributes RF in small amounts along the length of your body rather than concentrating it in any one location.

• Look for a phone with “voice-activated” features. These enable you to place calls and perform other commands without having to hold the phone close to your head.

• Use a standard “land line” whenever possible.

• Find out the level of RF emissions for your cellphone. If the level is high, replace the phone.

Cellphones come with emissions ratings known as “SARs” (specific absorption rates). These range from 0.5 to 1.6 W/kg (watts of power absorbed per kilogram of body tissue). Avoid any cellphone that falls within range of that upper limit.

The FDA provides SAR ratings for most kinds of cellphones and other wireless devices online. You’ll need to locate your cellphone’s FCC ID number, which is usually located somewhere on the case of the phone or in the battery compartment.

Meanwhile, my Wellness Research team’s tracked down the SAR ratings for some commonly used cellphones:


sar rating

Alcatel OT-256 0.59
Apple iPhone 0.974
Blackberry 8100 Pearl 1.52
Kyocera KX1 (SoHo) 0.99
LG Prada 1.29
Nokia 2300 1.27
Nokia 2650 0.54
Palm Treo 600 1.43
Palm Treo 650 CDMA 1.5
Samsung PM-A840 1.29
Samsung SPH-A900 0.92
Sanyo M1 1.22
Sanyo SCP-5400 1.16
Sharp GX20 0.7
Sony Ericsson A1228C 1.34
Sony Ericsson K600i 0.5
Sprint PM 8912 1.27
T-Mobile Dash 1.34


Don’t wait for proof positive that cellphone use can harm you. Using my guidelines, take steps right now to protect yourself.

[Ed. Note: Dr. Sears is a practicing physician and the author of The Doctor’s Heart Cure. He is also a nutrition expert, a fitness expert, and is board certified by the American Board of Anti-Aging Medicine. Find Dr. Sears’s practical solutions and get immediate access to more than 500 of his articles by visiting]

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Al Sears has written six books and more than 500 articles in the fields of alternative medicine, anti-aging and nutritional supplementation. He enjoys a worldwide readership of millions spread over 123 countries and has appeared on more than 50 national radio programs, ABC News, CNN and ESPN. In The Doctor’s Heart Cure, Dr. Sears exposes the real causes of the modern epidemic of heart disease with practical how-to advice for building real heart strength and resistance to disease without drugs. It is available in nine languages and remains a bestseller three years after its publication. His 12 Secrets to Virility sheds light on the huge environmental and nutritional problems with virility in our modern world and gives men a step-by step guide for maintaining health, strength and masculinity as they age. It became a bestseller during its first month of release. His latest book Your Best Health Under the Sun addresses the myths of the sun’s dangers and gives readers an action plan for restoring this important natural resource for better mood, strength, energy and nutritional health.Dr. Sears is board certified as a Clinical Nutrition Specialist and was appointed to the international panel of experts at Health Sciences Institute, (HSI) a worldwide information service for alternative nutritional therapies. A master gardener and herbalist, Dr. Sears maintains an herbal apothecary of more than 250 organic herbs used for research, education and treatments. Dr. Sears is the founder and director of The Wellness Research Foundation, conducting original research evaluating natural alternatives to pharmaceutical therapies.Dr. Sears is a member of the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine and is board certified in Anti-Aging Medicine. As a pioneer in this new field of medicine, he is an avid researcher and sought-after lecturer to thousands of doctors and health enthusiasts. He is a member of the American College of Sports Medicine and the National Youth Sports Coaches Association. As well as being a sports and fitness coach and a lifelong advocate of exercise programs, Dr. Sears is an ACE-certified fitness trainer. He maintains his integrative clinic and research center in Florida, where he has developed novel exercise and nutritional systems transforming the lives of more than 20,000 patients.