You are here:  Home > Public Health > Mobile phones > The arguments
University of Bristol
Institute of Physics logo
Why not try our other site: BEEP Biology & Ethics

Are mobile phones safe?

Roll your mouse over the image below to find out how some people disagree.

Text only version


The Concerned Parent

My daughter has just started secondary school. A number of children in her class have mobile pones and now my daughter wants one. I just don't know what to do. I realise the benefits that having a mobile phone wold give her, but what if the arguments about the links to cancer aretrue? Am I risking her health in later years to satisfy her present needs?

THe Research Scientist

I study the radiation effects of mobile phones. My colleagues in Sweden looked at 200 people with brain tumours. They found no link between using a mobile phone and increased chance of having a tumour. However the mobile phone users who did have tumours were over twice as likely to have a tumour near their phone ear than in other parts of the brain.

Scientists in the US studied 450 people with brain tumours. Again they found no evidence that using a mobile phone increases the chance of having a tumour. But there were more than twice as many mobile phone users who had a particular type of tumour (called a neurocytoma) compared with people who did not use mobile phones.

The Consultant Doctor

We must be careful. Even a tiny increase in the risk of brain cancer could cause many more deaths across the world. As brain tumours can take many years to develop we need to monitor the effects carefully over a number of years.

The government advisor

We commissioned the Stewart Report in 1999 - a group of independent scientists found no evidence of adverse health effects caused by radio wave radiation at current national safety limits. But gaps in current knowledge mean mobile phones cannot be classed as safe yet. Children should be especially careful about mobile phones use. Their skulls are still growing, so it is easier for radio waves from a mobile phone to enter their heads. Their cells are also developing and tend to absorb more radiation compared to adults.

The mobile phone manufacturer

I appreciate scientists do not fully understand how microwaves could cause cancer. Some other types of radiation with higher energy cause cancer. They do this by changing the DNA molecules in cells. I believe microwave radiation has too little energy to do this. Microwaves do heat up cells. This is how microwave ovens work. If you heat cells in the body enough you damage them. Microwaves from mobile phones are far too weak to do this. Even mild exercise will heat up your brain cells more.

The Journalist

Mobile phone masts give out more microwaves than phones. Scientists say the amount of radiation you receive from a mast is very small. This is because radiation strength drops very quickly the further away you get from the mast. But SEVEN clusters of cancer and other serious illnesses have been discovered around mobile phone masts. One of the studies, in Warwickshire, showed a cluster of 31 cancers around a single street. Now all I need is a good headline ... Do you live on CANCER ST??

Next: UV light

What's your opinion?

Average rating

Current rating: 3.5/5 (from 4 votes cast)

Read comments

Jay 20-03-08 12:33
made me think
shalb 07-11-08 14:13
i think mobile phones are bad and should be band because they cause brain damage
NOT RATED ?????? 11-02-09 10:43
i thynk dat mobile fnes r realli bad 4 ur health
NOT RATED Time 06-10-09 09:42
charlene 03-11-09 12:13
i belive this theory it has help me though my case study i think it dose dammage your brain
NOT RATED bob 08-02-10 14:06
cool site brothers :D
NOT RATED josh 29-04-10 10:48
Tilly 16-09-10 10:50
Superb website, Im a regular visitor every day, couldnt live without it
NOT RATED Vicar Jones 16-09-10 11:00
I think that mobile phones really affect your health and should be destroyed. Verse 12 chapter six new testament.
NOT RATED 27-09-16 14:57
[...Comment awaiting moderator's approval...]

Bookmark this pagefacebook myspace bebo delicious diigo stumbleupon twitter reddit yahoo google


Text equivalent: Precautionary principle: we should take care even if we are uncertain as to whether there is potential harm.Text equivalent:

Doing good

Perhaps it is best that young people have mobile phones, they can use them in emergencies and for social networking.
Text equivalent:

Do no harm

Should we allow young people to have mobile phones knowing there is potential damage from mobile phone radiation. Whilst damage from phone use remains a scientific uncertainty vandals could climb the phone masts where the radiation is more intense?