Cell phones and cancer: What is the evidence for a connection?

J. E. Moulder, L. S. Erdreich, R. S. Malyapa, J. Merritt, W. F. Pickard, Vijayalaxmi

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

141 Scopus citations


There have been allegations in the media and in the courts that cell phones and other types of hand-held transceivers are a cause of cancer. There have also been numerous public objections to the siting of TV, radio and cell phone transmission facilities because of a fear of cancer induction. A recent publication in Radiation Research by Repacholi et al. (147, 631640, 1997) which suggests that exposure to radiofrequency (RF) radiation may increase lymphoma incidence in mice has contributed to this controversy. The goal of this review is to provide biomedical researchers a brief overview of the existing RF radiation-cancer studies. This article begins with a brief review of the physics and technology of cell phones. It then reviews the existing epidemiological studies of RF radiation, identifying gaps in our knowledge. Finally, the review discusses the cytogenetics literature on RF radiation and the whole-animal RF-radiation carcinogenesis studies. The epidemiological evidence for an association between RF radiation and cancer is found to be weak and inconsistent, the laboratory studies generally do not suggest that cell phone RF radiation has genotoxic or epigenetic activity, and a cell phone RF radiation-cancer connection is found to be physically implausible. Overall, the existing evidence for a causal relationship between RF radiation from cell phones and cancer is found to be weak to nonexistent.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)513-531
Number of pages19
JournalRadiation Research
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1999
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiation
  • Biophysics
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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