AP Biology class blog for discussing current research in Biology

Tag: Cell Phones

Is Your Cellphone Trying to Kill You?

The cellphone that you use everyday, whether it is for work or your enjoyment, can harm you without you even knowing. Cellphones give off a certain type of energy called radio-frequency waves that can increase your risk of brain tumors or other tumors in the head or neck area. Cell phones are given the ability to function because of cell towers. Cell phones send and receive signals from surrounding cell towers by using radio-frequency waves. Radio-frequency waves, however, are a form of non-ionizing radiation, which means they do not have enough energy to cause cancer directly damaging the DNA inside a cell. This relates to our biology class, as we are talking about how cells work inside the body. Although radio-frequency waves do not have enough energy to break through a cell to cause damage, if they did, they would have to pass through the plasma membrane, and then reach the nucleus in order to damage DNA.

The radio-frequency waves come from the cell phone’s antenna, located in the body of a hand-held phone. The waves are strongest at the antenna and lose energy quickly as they travel away from the phone. The phone is often held against the head when a person is on a call. The closer the antenna is to someone, the greater their expected exposure to radio-frequency waves. The body tissues closest to the phone absorb more energy from the waves than tissues farther away, giving you a higher risk of a form of brain cancer than something else. The amount of energy absorbed by someone from the radio-frequency waves can be influenced by a number of things, such as the model of phone you use, or the amount of time you use your phone. However, in studies shown in the first embedded link, there has been no clear answer of the correlation between cellphones and cancer. Overall, I feel that if there was a significant finding in these studies, there would be a huge spike of cases of brain tumors or brain cancers. I believe this is not something we should be worried about, and if it were to be a problem, I feel that there would have been a solution created already.

Text Away!!

Credit: samantha celera Flickr

Most of us worry, or at least acknowledge, that our beloved cell-phones may contribute to the forming of tumors. Fortunately, a recent study on the link between cell phone use and tumors found that there was actually no link!

The previous studies on cell-phones and tumors had been inconclusive and were prone to error. This new study, with probably some faults of its own, says that cell-phones do not contribute to the forming of tumors in the body. Danish scientists compared the cancer risk for all of the Danish cell-phone users, all 420,095 of them, from 1982 to 1995 and then compared it to the risk from 1996 to 2002, when more people had cell-phones. The study showed that there was not a link between cell-phones and tumors. They then extended the study to include cell-phone users from 2002 to 2007 with still not definitive link.

The researchers found that 10,729 people had tumors between 1990 and 2007. Using this number, they funneled it to just people who had been using cell-phones for more than 13 years. The rate of people with tumors was unrelated to whether or not they had a cell phone.

Unfortunately, the study did not focus on each person’s particular usage of their cell-phone or on people who have had cell-phones for more than 15 years. So, it’s probably best not to always be glued to the phone, but hey, one more text can’t hurt!

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