Monday, 17 June 2019

New Cancer Council website debunks myths about mobile phone radiation

The Cancer Council's new website has been set up to answer some common misconceptions about cancer.

The myths that keeping a mobile phone in your pocket or on your bedside table as you sleep increases your risk of getting cancer is not supported by good scientific evidence according to a new Cancer Council Australia website.


“It doesn’t matter if you use your phone for calls, put it in your pocket or keep it on your bedside table – there is no good evidence that mobile phones can cause cancer,” the Cancer Council said in response to a question posted on the new website.


“Several studies have looked at this issue, particularly whether using a mobile phone increases the risk of brain cancer where the phone is held close to the head. The majority of them –including the largest ones – have found no link between mobile phone [use] and cancer, for at least 10 years of use.”


The Cancer Council recently launched the new website in an effort to address common misconceptions about what causes the disease and to provide a simple way for Australians to check if the information they read online or in the media is true.


Visitors to the site can post questions with links to videos or articles about cancer and the Cancer Council experts will respond with evidence-based answers.


In response to Perth resident Aaron’s question about mobile phones in the pocket or on bedside tables increasing your risk of cancer, the Cancer Council said there was no good explanation for how mobile phones could cause cancer and that brain cancer rates had not changed despite the increased use of the devices.


“They give off low-energy microwave radiation, but there is no good evidence that this could damage DNA or alter our cells in other ways that might lead to cancer,” the response said.


“It is also telling that brain cancer rates have stayed flat over the past decades in countries where mobile phone use has skyrocketed, including New Zealand, the US, the UK and Scandinavia. If mobile phones cause cancer, you would expect to see at least a small rise in these rates by now.”


However, they said it was impossible to rule out a long-term risk and that concerned mobile phone users could take some simple steps, such as limiting their call time or using ‘hands-free’ functions to reduce their exposure.


Another question sent in from Mike in Adelaide asked whether using Wi-Fi devices a lot increased your risk of cancer?


“There is no clear evidence to date showing that exposure to properly maintained Wi-Fi equipment would increase the risk of cancer,” the response said.


“However we cannot say for certain that there is no risk, nor can we predict what future research may find.”


Other interesting causes of cancer addressed on the website include: potato chips, cosmetics, plastic bottles, rice cakes, spray tans and artificial sweeteners.


Cancer Council Australia CEO, Professor Ian Olver, said a recent survey highlighted the level of misinformation about cancer, much of it sourced from websites and social media, where fanciful claims could be made without any credible scientific evidence.


“There is a huge amount of misinformation out there and, as a result, many Australians are confused about the real factors that increase their risk of cancer and the lifestyle choices they can make to decrease their risk,” Professor Olver said.


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