Bay Area Skeptics

The San Francisco Bay Area's skeptical organization since 1982

Do cell phones cause brain cancer?

Although we try at the BAS website to blog about Bay Area issues, sometimes national issues are so important they swamp our local focus. Dr. Robert ParkDr. Robert Park

The issue of cell phone radiation and cancer is one of them. Of course, as members of society, Bay Area residents are tuned into this controversy as well, so perhaps it is not inappropriate to comment on it.

Do cell phones cause brain cancer? There is no epidemiological evidence to suggest the link, only anecdote (and two anecdotes, despite the common practice in the press, do not constitute “data”). Is there a reason to suspect that cell phone radiation — close to the brain, and in the case of many heavy cell phone users, as much as several hours/day — might be dangerous?

Well, no. Not according to basic physics. Few people have been as clear on this issue as beloved skeptic Bob Park (though the irascible Park would probably grump about being termed “beloved”, but it’s true!) Author of “Voodoo Science” and “Superstition”, and editor of the wonderful weekly e-newsletter, “What’s New” (subscribe if you don’t already), his latest What’s New post so succinctly summarizes the physics, I wanted to share it with all of you.

He writes:

Here’s the conversation I have several times a day with total strangers:

Caller: do you use a wired earphone?
BP: No.
Caller: would it be too much trouble?
BP: No.
Caller: Wouldn’t you be safer?
BP: No.
Caller: How do you know?
BP: Quantum physics; all cancers are caused by mutant strands of DNA. Electromagnetic radiation can’t create mutant strands of DNA unless the frequency is at or higher than the blue limit of the visible spectrum – the near-ultraviolet. The frequency of cell phone radiation is about 1 million times too low.
Caller: Wow! When did this news break?
BP: Albert Einstein let it out in 1905. Robert Millikan, considered to be the world’s top physics experimentalist, spent a decade constructing an experiment to test it. It confirmed Einstein’s theory perfectly.
Caller: I’m shocked! Are you sure this is right?
BP: Virtually the entire modern world rests on it.
Caller: Why am I just hearing about this?
BP: Because Sanjay didn’t tell you. We all depend on the news media to keep us informed, and the news media all over the world let us down on this one. And we scientists should have been screaming louder.


You can find more on Bob Park at

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