Are Cell Phones Dangerous?

Are Cell Phones Dangerous? Or, more to the point, is the radiation emitted from a cell phone a hazard to your health and well being? Last fall I didn’t know much, if anything, about the risks of cell phones and wireless devices.

Since then I’ve spent hundreds of hours researching the effects of the radio frequency radiation that our smart devices emit. The results of my inquiry are somewhat frightening. Why? Because a growing body of evidence shows that wireless radiation, even at low levels, can be harmful to our health in many ways.

Do Cell Phones Cause Brain Cancer?

Cell phones are listed as a Class 2B carcinogen by the World Health Organization (WHO). This category is defined as “possibly carcinogenic to humans,” putting cell phones and other smart devices in the same category as lead, DDT, and jet fuel.1

According to a study in the journal Pathophysiology, heavy cell phone use triples the risk of brain cancer.2 This study also demonstrated that individuals who began using cell phones as teenagers more than quadrupled their risk of brain cancer.3

Researchers at the National Toxicology Program (NTP), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), conducted a study exposing rodents to radio-frequency radiation levels emulating those that humans experience with heavy cell phone use. The findings concluded that such exposure is associated with the formation of cancer in the brains of rats.4

University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute

In 2008, Dr. Ronald Herberman, an oncologist, as well as Founder and Director of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI), a National Cancer Institute (NCI) designated Comprehensive Care Center, issued a memo stating:5

Recently I have become aware of the growing body of literature linking long-term cell phone use to possible adverse health effects including cancer. Although the evidence is still controversial, I am convinced that there are sufficient data to warrant issuing an advisory to share some precautionary advice on cell phone use.

Dr. Herberman recommended that children should not be “allowed to use cell phones other than for emergencies,” and also warned, “Avoid using your cell phone in places like a bus where you can expose others to your phone’s EMFs.” He further stated that people should, “Avoid carrying your cell phone on your body at all times.”

The Powerful Telecom Lobby

Did you know that the telecommunications lobby spends more than $87 million per year convincing our elected officials that cell phones are safe?6

The telecommunications industry is fighting an ordinance in Berkeley, California requiring cell phone retailers to post warnings for customers regarding the radiation exposure from mobile devices.7 These warnings are found in fine print, buried deep in cell phone user manuals. Lobbyists claim that posting these warnings will cause undue panic.8 For the iPhone this reads:

To be sure that human exposure to RF energy does not exceed FCC, IC, and EU guidelines always follow these instructions and precautions. When using iPhone near your body for voice calls or wireless data transmission over a cellular network, keep iPhone at least 5/8 inch away from the body.9

In 1977, Berkeley became the first American city to ban smoking in restaurants. Who have the cell phone companies enlisted to fight this battle? The same lawyer that defended Big Tobacco for decades.

Other Sources of Wireless Radiation

In addition to cell phones, there are many other sources of wireless radiation including:

  • Smart Meters
  • Computers Using Wi-Fi
  • Wireless Printers
  • Wi-Fi Routers
  • Wireless Speakers
  • Cordless Phones
  • Microwaves
  • Smart Home Devices Including:
    • Light Switches
    • Thermostats
    • Sound Systems
    • Door Locks
    • TV’s and Remotes
    • Appliances (Dishwashers, Washers, Dryers)
  • Smart Watches and Fitness Trackers
  • Airport Scanners
  • Gaming Consoles
  • Baby Monitors

My Personal Experience with Wireless Radiation

I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2006. After that initial MS attack, I was highly functional until 2014. That was around one year after we moved into our new house.

I was involved in every aspect of building the house, other than the electronics. Our contractor recommended a smart house. I did not research the implications, let alone the potential impacts that hundreds of wireless access points in one’s living space could have.

As time passed in our new home I became sicker. I also spent more time at home, which I later learned made me even sicker. Finally, I hired two building biologists (Riun Ashlie and Risa Suzuki) to investigate the complex systems we installed. What did we find? Something rather frightening.

Smart meters contain a device that communicates wirelessly using radio frequency radiation. This is called a zigbee chip. We had more than 200 zigbee chips in our new home and it’s taken months to remove all of the smart technology. If you look at the list above, we had a large portion of the devices on it.

We removed the last smart technology from our house in February. For three and a half years I lived in a home that contained radio frequency radiation levels well over 1,000 times those recommended by the Building Biology Association. It’s now been eight weeks since we removed the last of the smart lighting system and other devices.

I’m starting to feel better, but I know it may take more than a few weeks to get well after sleeping with 3 zigbee chips within a meter of my head as well as all around my living space. I’ll keep you posted on my progress and will continue to discuss the health ramifications of wireless technology and the radio frequency radiation that accompanies it. For more information on steps you can take to reduce your exposure to radio frequency radiation see my post called, Simple Steps to Reduce EMFs.

Thank you Elana for writing this! It is so incredibly important to raise awareness for this issue and start this discussion in all of our communities.


130 responses to “Are Cell Phones Dangerous?”

  1. Elana, have you posted any updates as to how things progressed after removing all of the zigbee chips? Have things improved?

  2. Hi Elana,

    I have been following you for years, make all your recipes and have all your cookbooks. You are my go to for all my gluten free cooking. Another EMF exposure people are not aware of are solar panels. I read it is the converter box that emits the most EMF’s. If that is true you could put the converter box on an unattached garage or shed – somewhere away from the hours.
    Also radiant flooring.
    Love you Elana, Thanks for all your recipes and good information

  3. Elana – my son has MS – was diagnosed 18 months ago. He is a communications/media major and spends a lot of time at a computer. His MS is worsening and I am trying to educate myself about the EMFs. I remember reading about a meter you suggested to measure the radiation but I cannot seem to find the info when I search your site. Can you recommend a meter I should purchase to be able to assess how we are doing as we work on modifying our house as you did. Thank you! I am glad you found the reason for your MS exacerbation and are feeling better!

      • Elana – I’m interested in the device to measure microwaves but that link seems to just take me to Amazon but not a specific product… Am I doing something wrong?

    • Thank you so much for your website! I wonder how you deal with your kids and their phones. I have a college student and a high school student at home and it’s very hard not to be overwhelmed by the dangers of their addiction to their phones. Do you have any advice for how to handle this. They don’t believe they are harmful.

      • Keri, it’s such a challenge! Our family doctor believes that it is not safe to sleep with your phone near your head so he has spoken about this with them. But when they get to this age they’re too old to be checked on :-)

  4. I didn’t read all of the above comments, only some, so I don’t know if anyone else has a similar issue and you already addressed it.
    I know that I am effected by EMF. I can feel it. But I also know how food effects my body, and I do my best to take care of myself, but I am married to a computer programmer who is obsessed with smart homing. He does it himself. Luckily, he has to research each thing thoroughly, so he is still working on it. He loves computers and all things related. I have tried to address the issue, but I don’t really know what to do. He is very stubborn, and as he is the computer expert = I am not. He pretty much rolls his eyes at the mention of negative frequencies. He won’t believe me, and honestly, he won’t believe any source unless it’s one of his approved sources. Is there anything economically reasonable that I can do without removing all of the smart sensors, and light bulbs, etc? Nutrition is in a similar conundrum for us, but at least with that I can eat what I eat, and be a good example hoping he’ll recognize the benefits. Radio wave? Not so much.

    • Emily, thanks for your comment. This is such a challenging situation and I’ve experienced it myself. No one was happy with me when I took all of their smart toys away, but they were willing to do it for my health :-)

  5. Elana,
    Sorry for your troubles but glad you are starting to feel better. Thanks so much for publicizing this important issue. As someone who has done environmental work for near 50 years I consider wireless proliferation the most important toxics issue of our time. Not only does it harm people but wildlife and plants as well.

    We litigated the smart meter issue in Maine for over 4 years and lost despite overwhelming evidence in our favor . One thing that came out in a survey we conducted in an international survey was that 42% of our more than 200 respondents began suffering radiofrequency radiation symptoms for the first time or, if previously sensitive had their symptoms worsen AFTER smart meters were installed but BEFORE they knew their electromechanical meters had been replaced.

    People have had to sell their homes of many years because even though they were able to opt out they were impacted by a neighbor’s meter. Thousands have lost their jobs and relationships have suffered when one or both partners become electrically sensitive. This is a tragedy and for those who care about their privacy, smart meters census your electrical activities generally at 15 minute intervals [although they can transmit microbursts up to 190,000 times/day.

    All of our expert testimony as well as many good resources on health effects are available to anyone needing more information at our Maine website: . Thanks again for getting the news out there!


    • Ed, I’m so grateful to hear from an expert like you. Thanks for your comment and for all you are doing to raise awareness of this important issue!

  6. On the topic, here’s a good background on the dangers of the growing new 5G technology and Silicon Valley’s attempt to create a state of constant connectivity of everything (Internet of things). Where do we run away to? We either somehow find latent superhuman powers that allow us to defend ourselves, or we must create our own communities. I honestly see no other solutions to the proliferation of these ever-expanding powerful technologies.

  7. Did you know that having heavy metals in the body, whether in dental amalgams or accumulated in the organs from past amalgams or other form of intake, amplifies the effect of radio radiation on the body as the metals have antenna-like properties that amplify electro-magnetic & radio frequencies . Did you also look into dirty electricity in the home? This is a different type of radiation (electro-magnetic) but also disruptive to the nervous system, cellular transport, immunity, etc.

    • Anna, yes I did know that. The same can happen with braces. And yes, we had a severe dirty electricity problem that we have only partially remediated.

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