In 1996, only about 44 million American adults had cell phones. Now there are almost 330 million active subscriptions in the U.S., or one cell phone for every person in the country. Nowadays, adults aren’t the only ones with phones. In fact, many parents give their infants their cell phones to provide a portable entertainment option. So with all those mobile devices, should we be concerned about the health risks? Definitely. While not a definitive list, let’s go through 5 ways cell phones can harm your health.
Cell Phone Hazards
Smartphones are the most popular types of cell phones, and they’re also one of the few that emit a high level of radiation. Holding a smartphone, or any cell phone for that matter, in your pocket or bra is extremely risky to reproductive organs and breasts. Here are five ways cell phones pose a health risk:
1. Cancer Risk
A new study from Sweden suggests decades of cell phone use can triple your chances for brain cancer.  While even a tripled risk is low, this latest finding contradicts one from 2010 (in part funded by cell phone makers) that found no strong link between cell phone use and brain tumors.   These types of studies look at users who are constantly holding cell phones against their heads.
2. Hindering Sleep
Cell phones might even be hazardous to our sleep, with the latest evidence suggesting that individuals with smartphones in the bedroom sleep less each night.  In addition, microwave radiation from cell phones is much riskier for kids than originally thought. One study noted a child’s brain tissue and bone marrow actually absorbs significantly more than those of an adult. 
3. Disease Carriers
Let’s be honest, how often do you clean your cell phone? It’s not really something we think about, but a recent study noted cell phones could be as dirty as public toilet seats, and that the heat phones generate makes a perfect breeding ground for bacteria.  Disinfecting cell phones is always a good idea since these germs can even infect you.
4. Do Cell Phones Promote Social and Psychological Issues?
Research has often studied the way cell phones change the way we think, but a team of researchers found cell phones actually interfere with normal socialization. The near constant use even creates learned compulsive behaviors (like self-importance).  With the average young adult sending about 109 text messages and checking their phone a little over 60 times per day, the fear here is that this type of behavior could lead to potentially dangerous addictions. 
5. Spinal Misalignment: A Surprising Connection
Think about how many times a day you check your phone. It might not be as many times as those in number 4, but all that constant tilting down to look at your phone screen can take its toll, leading to neck and back pain as well as migraines.  This is not just something caused by looking at cell phone screens; doctors are even seeing it more and more in younger children because of handheld games.
More and more authorities are noting the possible risks of cell phones. In 2011, the World Health Organization conceded cell phones are “possibly carcinogenic,” and, since then, more and more research has been added to the danger pile. Now, the FCC is reassessing safe radiation exposure limits for cell phones, something that hasn’t been explored since 1996.  It might not lead to rapid change, but it’s a start.
What You Can Do to Protect Yourself
Cell phones expose you to a great deal of radiation, and your best bet for protecting your brain is to reduce the amount of verbal conversations you are having on the phone. Use speakerphone when you’re at home, and utilize text messaging when you can. You can also find a variety of EMF clothing protection options available online that will shield you from cell phone radiation.
- Hardell, L. & Carlberg, M. Mobile phone and cordless phone use and the risk for glioma – Analysis of pooled case-control studies in Sweden, 1997–2003 and 2007–2009. Pathophysiology.
- Crocetti, E. et al. Epidemiology of glial and non-glial brain tumours in Europe. European Journal of Cancer. 48 (10).
- Wild, C. IARC Report to the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) on the Interphone Study. International Agency for Research on Cancer.
- Falbe, J. et al. Sleep Duration, Restfulness, and Screens in the Sleep Environment. Pediatrics.
- Morgan, LL. et al. Why children absorb more microwave radiation than adults: The consequences. Journal of Microscopy and Ultrastructure. 2 (4).
- Brady, RR. et al. Review of mobile communication devices as potential reservoirs of nosocomial pathogens. The Journal of Hospital Infection. 71 (4).
- Ghosh, A. et al. Use-Dependent Cortical Processing from Fingertips in Touchscreen Phone Users. Current Biology. 1 (5).
- Roberts, J. et al. The invisible addiction: Cell-phone activities and addiction among male and female college students. Journal of Behavioral Addictions. 3 (4).
- PA Homepage. The Way You Hold Your Cell Phone Could Cause Health Problems. PA Homepage.
- Federal Communications Commision. Notice. FCC.
†Results may vary. Information and statements made are for education purposes and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. If you have a severe medical condition or health concern, see your physician.