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Can Smart Phones Cause Cancer or Mental Illness?


Smart phones, computers, and wireless routers emit radio-frequency(RF) radiation while affecting us psychologically and physicially. The amount of radio-frequency radiation released from these devices is increasing with time, along with the populations daily screen time.

Cancer

According to the American Cancer Society(ACS) and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC), there is not conclusive evidence determining whether or not radio-frequency radiation can cause cancer in humans(1,2). Some of the research on this matter has conflicting evidence due to funding sources and methodological criticisms (2,3,4,6,15). Most cell phone companies include safe distances that should be kept from their devices in their instruction manuals(8). A meta-analysis included 46 case-control studies. Subjects who maintained 17 minutes of phone call time per day on average had a 60% increased risk in tumor development(3). Another meta-analysis showed increased risks of breast cancer in women exposed to RF radiation(6).

Further research is needed to determine if and how we should mitigate RF radiation risks, however, some sources suggest maintaining a distance of at least 10-30cm or more from smart phones(5, 7,), especially from the head, and 12-20 inches from laptops(9). Wireless routers can be stored away from bedrooms and living rooms to avoid chronic exposure. "Airplane mode" shuts off radiation emission and can also be used when connections are not needed. Ethernet cable system set ups can also be used to eliminate radiation exposure.

Mental Health

Multiple studies have demonstrated strong associations between high smart phone usage and mood disorders, depression, loneliness, neck pain, eye strain, weight gain, distorted body image, envy, disordered eating, addiction to smart phones, and suicidal behaviors(10,11,12). As with cancer causing effects, more research is needed, however it is likely that most people can benefit from keeping track of their screen time and aiming to reduce this time by 1-2 hours per day to see if it seems to improve mental wellness(13). One study found that participants that used their phone more then around 7 hours per day tended to suffer the most detrimental effects(11).

By: Evan Redmond, Pharm.D.

Resources:

1.CDC;https://www.cdc.gov/nceh/radiation/cell_phones._faq.html#:~:text=Do%20cell%20phones%20give%20off,we%20know%20can%20be%20harmful

2.https://www.cancer.org/cancer/risk-prevention/radiation-exposure/cellular-phones.html

3.Brzozek C, Abramson MJ, Benke G, Karipidis K. Comment on Choi et al. Cellular Phone Use and Risk of Tumors: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17, 8079. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2021 May 20;18(10):5459. doi: 10.3390/ijerph18105459. PMID: 34065238; PMCID: PMC8160657.

4.Choi YJ, Moskowitz JM, Myung SK, Lee YR, Hong YC. Cellular Phone Use and Risk of Tumors: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020 Nov 2;17(21):8079. doi: 10.3390/ijerph17218079. PMID: 33147845; PMCID: PMC7663653 https://www.mdpi.com/1660-4601/17/21/8079.

5.Buckus R, Strukcinskiene B, Raistenskis J. The assessment of electromagnetic field radiation exposure for mobile phone users. Vojnosanit Pregl. 2014 Dec;71(12):1138-43. doi: 10.2298/vsp140119013b. PMID: 25639003. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25639003/

6.Shih YW, O'Brien AP, Hung CS, Chen KH, Hou WH, Tsai HT. Exposure to radiofrequency radiation increases the risk of breast cancer: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Exp Ther Med. 2021 Jan;21(1):23. doi: 10.3892/etm.2020.9455. Epub 2020 Nov 9. Retraction in: Exp Ther Med. 2021 May;21(5):472. PMID: 33262809; PMCID: PMC7690245. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7690245/

7.https://techwellness.com/blogs/expertise/phone-radiation-safe-distance

8.https://ehtrust.org/do-cell-phone-companies-tell-us-that-phones-should-be-used-at-a-distance-from-the-body-because-of-the-radiation/

9.https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/radiation/electromagnetic-fields-fact-sheet#:~:text=Magnetic%20fields%20drop%20precipitously%20at,fields%20are%20similarly%20dramatically%20lower

10.Abi-Jaoude E, Naylor KT, Pignatiello A. Smartphones, social media use and youth mental health. CMAJ. 2020 Feb 10;192(6):E136-E141. doi: 10.1503/cmaj.190434. PMID: 32041697; PMCID: PMC7012622.

11.Daniyal M, Javaid SF, Hassan A, Khan MAB. The Relationship between Cellphone Usage on the Physical and Mental Wellbeing of University Students: A Cross-Sectional Study. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2022 Jul 30;19(15):9352. doi: 10.3390/ijerph19159352. PMID: 35954709; PMCID: PMC9368281.

12.Abi-Jaoude E, Naylor KT, Pignatiello A. Smartphones, social media use and youth mental health. CMAJ. 2020 Feb 10;192(6):E136-E141. doi: 10.1503/cmaj.190434. PMID: 32041697; PMCID: PMC7012622. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7012622/

13.https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/behavioral-health-partners/bhp-blog/july-2023/cell-phone-usage-%E2%80%93-how-much-is-too-much.aspx

14.https://www.hindawi.com/journals/jeph/2018/7910754/

15.Joachim Schüz, Kirstin Pirie, Gillian K Reeves, Sarah Floud, Valerie Beral, for the Million Women Study Collaborators, Cellular Telephone Use and the Risk of Brain Tumors: Update of the UK Million Women Study, JNCI: Journal of the National Cancer Institute, Volume 114, Issue 5, May 2022, Pages 704–711, https://doi.org/10.1093/jnci/djac042 https://academic.oup.com/jnci/article/114/5/704/6554484



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