Study Indicates Heavy Cell Phone Use Increases Cancer Risk

There have been many studies concerning the impact of cell phone use on health but so far the results have been mixed. The International Agency for Research on Cancer categorizes cell phones as carcinogenic category 2b – “potentially carcinogenic to humans.” A study conducted by Dr. Yaniv Hamzany at Tel Aviv University's Sackler Faculty of Medicine and the Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery Department at the Rabin Medical Center looked at the saliva of cell phone users to see if salivary content could be used to determine a connection between cell phone use and cancer. When a user is talking into a cell phone, the phone is near the salivary glands.

Dr. Hamzany and his researchers compared the saliva of heavy mobile phone users (speaking for a minimum of eight hours per month) with non-users, and found the saliva of heavy users showed indications of higher oxidative stress--a process that damages all aspects of a human cell, including DNA--through the development of toxic peroxide and free radicals.

Dr. Hamzany explained: “This suggests that there is considerable oxidative stress on the tissue and glands which are close to the cell phone when in use." 

The study report said this stress is linked to cellular and genetic mutations which cause the development of tumors. You may be wondering how the researchers were able to find a control group that didn't use cell phones. They found them among deaf patients who don’t have cell phones or use them only for texting.

The researchers said while these results don't show a conclusive “cause and effect” relationship between cell phone use and cancer, they add to the evidence that cell phone use may be harmful in the long term. Dr. Hamzany suggested future research could analyze a person's saliva prior to exposure to a cell phone and immediately after several “intense minutes” of exposure to see if there is an immediate response such as a rise in molecules that indicate oxidative stress.

The study was published in the journal Antioxidants & Redox Signaling. The paper Is Human Saliva an Indicator of the Adverse Health Effects of Using Mobile Phones? was published in January this year and is available for $59 from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.

Doug Lung

Doug Lung is one of America's foremost authorities on broadcast RF technology. As vice president of Broadcast Technology for NBCUniversal Local, H. Douglas Lung leads NBC and Telemundo-owned stations’ RF and transmission affairs, including microwave, radars, satellite uplinks, and FCC technical filings. Beginning his career in 1976 at KSCI in Los Angeles, Lung has nearly 50 years of experience in broadcast television engineering. Beginning in 1985, he led the engineering department for what was to become the Telemundo network and station group, assisting in the design, construction and installation of the company’s broadcast and cable facilities. Other projects include work on the launch of Hawaii’s first UHF TV station, the rollout and testing of the ATSC mobile-handheld standard, and software development related to the incentive auction TV spectrum repack. A longtime columnist for TV Technology, Doug is also a regular contributor to IEEE Broadcast Technology. He is the recipient of the 2023 NAB Television Engineering Award. He also received a Tech Leadership Award from TV Tech publisher Future plc in 2021 and is a member of the IEEE Broadcast Technology Society and the Society of Broadcast Engineers.