Good news: Study says your iPhone (probably) won’t cause cancer

Oct 25, 2011
Tech

You’ve heard the reports plenty of times before, from many scientific and less-than-scientific studies: cellphones cause/do not cause cancer. Well, there’s good news out of Denmark, especially for people who always have an iPhone in their hip pockets. The latest research suggests radiation coming off cellphones does not cause cancer. Mashable has the story, which […]

You’ve heard the reports plenty of times before, from many scientific and less-than-scientific studies: cellphones cause/do not cause cancer. Well, there’s good news out of Denmark, especially for people who always have an iPhone in their hip pockets. The latest research suggests radiation coming off cellphones does not cause cancer.

Mashable has the story, which details the study from Copenhagen’s Department of Epidemiology and Public Health. It actually took the entire population of Denmark as its sample size, focusing on Danish adults age 30 or older and splitting them into two groups: those who were cellphone subscribers starting before 1995, and those who weren’t. The study found that in both groups, the number of cancer cases were pretty much the same. It also didn’t find an uptick in cancer in the parts of the brain that are most directly blasted by cellphone radiation.

The researchers noted that the study isn’t without flaws – you don’t need a subscription to have a cellphone after all – and the Mashable report says they did a deeper analysis of their numbers, with similar results. Undoubtedly, this will lead to additional studies that will analyze the results further, as well as attempt to duplicate them, but it should be a positive notch on the belt for smartphones in general.

Studies reported such as this one tend to skew on the side of small sample sizes, making the results dubious. It’s sometimes hard to separate correlation from causation in situations with only a few people tested. The fact that this study tested a huge adult population is helpful for its numbers and makes it a little more reliable. It pretty well suggests that having a phone against your head doesn’t give you cancer.

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But another tangible thing to test is whether cellphone radiation in general – the signals flying through the air all around us, all the time – are dangerous. That’s been suggested before as well, and the ubiquity of cellphone radiation could potentially alter the results of studies such as this one.

For now, though, you may breathe a little easier spending every hour of every day with your iPhone close at hand. Though, despite the positive findings of one study, it can’t hurt to be on the safe-side and get one of those hands-free headphone/mic kits. As the Danish researchers pointed out, while they didn’t find an increase in cancer in cellphone users, they can’t rule out cancer in the smaller percentage of people who use their phones much more often than the average user.

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Phil Hornshaw

Phil Hornshaw is a freelance writer, editor and author living in Los Angeles, dividing his time between playing video games, playing video games on his cell phone, and writing about playing video games. He’s also the co-author of So You Created a Wormhole: The Time Traveler’s Guide to Time Travel, which attempts to mix time travel pop culture with some semblance of science, as well as tips on the appropriate means of riding dinosaurs. Check out his profile.

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