Why is there concern that cell phones may cause cancer or other health problems?
Extensive research has been performed to date on the health effects of cellphone use. However, some of these studies have produced vastly different results. One possible reason is that the subject under scrutiny is a moving target – the technology itself and the ways in which it is used are constantly changing. Some studies suggest that the widespread use of mobile devices is contributing to an increase in cancer rates, while others have found that they pose virtually no health risks. These ambiguities are causing a lot of confusion among the general public. Should you be worried?
The differences between non-ionizing and ionizing radiation
Unlike the ionizing radiation produced by X-rays and ultraviolet light – which is known to carry enough energy to cause cellular and DNA damage that can lead to cancer – the non-ionizing radiation emitted by cellphones, cellphone towers, Wi-Fi routers, radios, microwaves and other common sources is widely believed to be harmless due to its lack of potency. One concern about the latest research findings is that, contrary to popular belief, some evidence suggests that non-ionizing radiation may have sufficient potency to cause biological changes that may lead to tumor development in animals (as of yet, there is no evidence to suggest a similar effect in humans).
However, it’s important to understand that some of this research is inherently flawed. For instance, many studies are funded by the cellphone industry, which strongly suggests the possibility of bias. Also, there is a general lack of randomized controlled trials, mainly because it would be difficult and expensive to randomly assign specific levels of cellphone use to thousands of study participants for at least five years (and to find enough participants who would be willing to adhere to such restrictions). This would be necessary in order to perform a randomized controlled trial that would yield clear and reliable answers.
Still, while animal studies have yielded mixed conclusions about non-ionizing radiation and brain tumors, the highest-quality human studies performed to date have consistently shown no correlation between non-ionizing radiation and cancer risk. Until better information becomes available, you may want to take some steps to reduce your exposure to non-ionizing radiation. For instance, don’t carry your cellphone in a pocket or otherwise wear it on your body, use a wired earpiece rather than holding your cellphone to your ear and don’t sleep with your cellphone next to your pillow.
Bundesamt für Strahlenschutz, The German Federal Office for Radiation Protection, managed to gather a ton of useful data, thanks to the wide set of phones available there. Information such as emitted radiation levels were determined. A criteria was also set. The absorption rate was to be measured in watts per kilogram.
It was found out that Samsung Galaxy Note8, out of all the smartphones, generated the least amount of radiation (0.17 watts per kilogram, to be more specific). In fact, a number of Samsung phones are known for creating low levels of radiations. Apple, on the other hand, has a couple of iPhones known for generating high levels of radiations. However, Mi A1 (from Xiaomi) takes the cake in terms of emitting highest levels of radiations. Following it in that list is yet another Chinese Cell phone, called OnePlus 5T. Apple Phones which are featured quite high on the table are iPhone 7 and 8.
This chart lists the ‘Specific Absorption Rate’ of smartphones that emit the least radiation
Speaking about high and low radiation levels, it should be noted that there’s no set level which can be considered “safe”. However, “Der Blaue Engel”, the German certification for environmental friendliness makes sure to certify only such phones whose absorption rate is less than 0.60 watts per kilogram.
Here is a list of a number of smartphones, ranging from “safe” and low level radiation emitters to high and potentially hazardous level radiation generators.
Phones Emitting Least Radiations
Absorption rate (in watts per kilogram)
Phones Emitting Most Radiations
Absorption rate (in watts per kilogram)
|Phones Emitting Least Radiations||Absorption rate (in watts per kilogram)||Phones Emitting Most Radiations||Absorption rate (in watts per kilogram)|
|Samsung Galaxy Note8||0.17||Xiaomi Mi A1||1.75|
|ZTE Axon Elite||0.17||OnePlus 5T||1.68|
|Samsung Galaxy A8||0.24||Xiaomi Mi Max 3||1.58|
|LG G7||0.24||OnePlus 6T||1.55|
|Samsung Galaxy S7 edge||0.26||HTC U12 life||1.48|
|Samsung Galaxy S7 edge||0.26||Xiaomi Mi Mix 3||1.45|
|HTC U11 life||0.28||Google Pixel 3 XL||1.39|
|LG Q6/Q6+||0.28||OnePlus 5||1.39|
|Samsung Galaxy S9+||0.29||iPhone 7||1.38|
|Motorola Moto g5 plus||0.30||Sony Xperia XZ1 Compact||1.36|
|Motorola Moto Z||0.30||HTC Desire 12/12+||1.34|
|Samsung Galaxy j6+||0.31||Google Pixel 3||1.33|
|ZTE Blade A610||0.31||OnePlus 6||1.33|
|Samsung Galaxy j4+||0.32||iPhone 8||1.32|
|Samsung Galaxy S8||0.32||Xiaomi Redmi Note 5||1.29|
|ZTE Blade V9||0.32||ZTE AXON 7 mini||1.29|
Thus, it’s evident from the table that Samsung Phones generate such low level radiations that are barely half of the specified benchmark (0.6). On the other hand, Xiaomi and Apple phones’ generated radiation levels are more than double of that benchmark.
This chart shows the ‘Specific Absorption Rate’ of cell phones that emit the most radiation, if you are planning to buy one of these device make sure you know how safe they are in terms of radiation
Infographic courtesy of: Statista.
Although these insights would probably not have any effect on the sales of either Samsung or Apple phones right now, the pursuit of a safer lifestyle can surely have a huge role to play in future.