Cell Phones, Cancer and Acceptable Risk

Salvete, omnes!

I recently started a thread on acceptable risk and it got me now to thinking of the issue of cell phones and cancer.

Since the data is still a bit murky when it comes to both the shorr-term and long-term cancer risks of cell phones, but since the “regulators that be” at least here in the U.S. seem to think that cell phone use is safe (with a few caveats?), should Catholics use cell phones? Or, only certain ones? The question comes down, again, to acceptable risk. Should Catholics (and, indeed, Christians, generally) use cell phones if there is even a potential risk of cancer when using cell phones?

If use is fine, then, what about placement? I have an iPhone 5 (internal antenna) and I use one of those belt-clip holsters (OtterBox) which, as some know, is placed quite close to the body (I happen to have it on my right side). I have it this close to me for convenience’s sake, so I can more quickly access it when I need it. Since, in most cases, the phone is not on an active call or internet work, but is, rather, at most, pinging the tower/doing updates here and there, is having my cell phone that close to me in a holster an acceptable thing do to? Theologically, is such a thing an acceptable risk? (Honestly, I don’t know if studies have even been done specifically addressing “non-active” cell phones on holsters close to the body, particualrly on women. So, if I don’t have knowledge in this area, is the risk still acceptable?)

Guys, I am not a scientist, so, as a non-scientist, what, in all these cases and generally, is an acceptable risk in Christian terms when it comes to cell phone use?


Here’s the definitive study on cell phone cancer risk


The Canadian Cancer society said of the study: Link

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified radiofrequency fields (including those from cell phones) as a possible cause of cancer in 2011.

Because of the conflicting evidence, more conclusive research is needed to be sure:
A small number of studies show a link between cell phone use and cancer.
Most research done so far does not show a link. IARC created a large international research project called INTERPHONE to study whether cell phones increase the risk of certain types of cancer. They collected data from 13 countries, including Canada. The results from the INTERPHONE study found no increased risk of brain cancer (glioma and meningioma) from using a cell phone.Other research groups have also conducted studies that don’t show a link.

Read more: cancer.ca/en/cancer-information/cancer-101/what-is-a-risk-factor/environmental-risks/radiation/cell-phones/?region=bc#ixzz3b62ziSEs

Charring meat on a BBQ is a cancer risk.
Eating bacon and other cured meats is a cancer risk.
Off gassing from new carpets is a cancer risk.
Living in areas where radon gas is common is a cancer risk (see map).

Whaddya do?

The truth of the matter is presently unknown. Personally, I believe it’s wiser to err on the side of caution, especially where children are concerned. And remember, for whatever it’s worth, there are many countries world that ban outright or place restrictions on children’s cell use.

I heard there are some phones that do not have bad radiation, but I cannot find out if mine does or not. I have an iphone 5c, and I always keep it in my pocket. You can have a higher risk of anything doing anything pretty much, and I don’t really feel like my phone is safe and ready to use if its not in my pocket, but it would be good to know.

I understand you are attempting to learn about Catholicism. But perhaps a more cohesive synthesis of theology and Church teaching would be better than a random approach. From your various emails it seems you are under the impression that the Church has teaching on every little thing. It does not.

The Church has no teaching on whether or not one should use a cell phone because it “might” cause cancer any more than it has a teaching on whether or not to use a car because you “might” get into an accident.

You also seems to be under the impression that everyday things are sinful, or could be sinful. This points towards scrupulous tendencies. The Church does not tell us what to do at every turn. You cannot be overly worried that everything is a sin. If you are, seek spiritual counsel.

What the Church does teach is that we should cultivate the virtue of prudence. The rest is up to you.

There are so many things that can apparently “cause cancer,” but I don’t know whether any of these researchers are looking upon their findings considering that correlation does not imply causality.
Apparently even sitting down is a “cause” of cancer now. Where does it stop?

Think of all the other factors for development of cancer cells, lifestyle choices, genetics, factors we aren’t aware of. In the end, even the well behaved (in terms of lifestyle) end up with cancer, despite being active, healthy, fit and always eating/drinking well.

Given the Church’s position on smoking and drinking, I think the best thing to do is avoid using your phone to excess. Don’t get “addicted”* to it. Use it as a tool, when needed.

*Addicted is an over-used term, but I would say just grabbing your phone out whenever you can would be classified as something along these lines.

All this “cancer stuff” spread all over the media is a big distraction. We’re gonna die one day anyhow. Why not just live a good life, according to God’s will and let our fate run its course?

I like your post. It’s true that we cannot be protected from getting cancer, because nobody knows how cancer afflicts some people and not others. It is best not to worry about it.

I agree that any form of addiction is not good for the human soul. Best to be moderate in all things. My problem with cell phones is not the threat of cancer, but the idea that people cannot live without them. Why everyone wants to be on call 24-7 is beyond me! It really is an invasion of privacy, along with a lot of social media sites such as facebook, where people have all kinds of fake “friends” who know everything about them. (but don’t get me started on that!)

Well, its pretty much guaranteed there are at least some products we are using in modern times that will eventually be determined to be highly dangerous to out health, if you look back thru history, will see lots of these…problem is, it usually takes awhile to recognize the danger and then to make the public recognize it, especially when it comes to something very popular!

We have to have the data to draw an accurate conclusion, the evidence tells us the conclusion. That’s how good science works. You don’t start with a conclusion and try to fit the data to it, that is pseudoscience and can only lead to false conclusions.

Sometimes even that is not enough, look back to the 50s, 60s, smoking was very popular, I have a hard time believing the health studies did not show them how dangerous it was, yet because of how widely popular it was at the time, for some reason, people just didnt accept it or the studies themselves were ‘altered’, so it didnt throw a wrench into such a popular thing…I wonder if the same thing is not going on with cell phones.

I mean, just imagine what peoples reactions would be if one study found cell phones were dangerous…we would be exactly like people back in the 60s, defending this popular thing, I doubt anyone would give it up…like smoking, it would take decades to show people to truth and for them to be able to recognize it.

I think plenty of science today would be pseudoscience. There are too many studies coming out where a particular agenda is present, and not a genuine search for the real truth.

Having done a significant amount of research, I’ve personally found a lot of the “anti-smoking” stuff out there to be largely rubbish. There are numbers that just don’t add up, when you think about it (“at least half of all smokers die from their habit,” well, then any nation with high rates of smoking shouldn’t see any population growth, like China now, or the US then).
A lot of researchers have an agenda, and they manipulate their research and results. Or they are paid to do so (Richard Doll, the grandfather of all this, was paid during Monsanto to prove Agent Orange was harmless).

In this sort of instance, to each their own. However, too many “scientists” are bringing personal convictions into their work, instead of real science. That’s what we’re to watch out for with research on phones.

Like I said before, plenty of things are “bad” for us, yet we, as Catholics, continue to do it, regardless of the information behind it. Its a personal choice.

A correlative link between tobacco use and cancer was drawn in the 1700s and, even though study after study confirmed it to be true, it took centuries for that to be accepted in the scientific community. Many people don’t’ know this, but claims of causation are an exaggeration 99.9% of the time when it comes to cancer. Carcinogens are classified as such based on correlation alone and there are very few things that are actually known to *cause *cancer. For example, we can say that there is a correlation between tobacco use and cancer because incidences of lung cancer among smokers is higher than those of non-smokers. Can we say that it *causes * lung cancer? Not necessarily, because the vast majority of smokers will never develop lung cancer. There are many variables at play when it comes to cancer risk and they are poorly understood or unknown. Are cell phones dangerous? Who knows, and baring some earth shattering discovery we’ll probably still be talking about it in 100 years.

:thumbsup: Yup, agenda driven “research” is not science, it is propaganda masquerading as science.

This is an interesting article that came out today:


There is nothing there, no studies, no data, no analysis of results, no control group, no evidence, no use of the scientific method. In short, none of the essentials of a scientific study.

Yes this is an interesting article! Especially the last sentence.

Excerpt below:

Questions have surfaced about the safety of EMF among the scientific community and with the public, but it is largely absent from national debate despite the ubiquitous use of devices, particularly in the United States.

“…In the United States, where non-industry-funded studies are rare, where legislation protecting the wireless industry from legal challenges has long been in place…to suggest it might be a problem – maybe, eventually, a very public-health problem – is like saying our shoes might be killing us,” wrote journalist Christopher Ketchum in a 2010 GQ article called “Warning: Your Cell Phone May Be Hazardous to Your Health.”

Ketchum said a 2008 study sponsored by the International Agency for Research on Cancer in France reported that after a decade of cellphone use, the chances of getting a brain tumor – specifically on the side of the head where you use the phone – go up as much as 40 percent for adults.

In 1980, there were zero cell phone users in the U.S. Today, there are over 279 million. Yet the rates for brain cancer have remained flat over that time.


Study from the Oxford Journal of Neuro-Oncology:

Thank-you for using actual logic in your argument.

We need more people who are willing to look at REAL statistics and factors that supposedly influence them, rather than sheep that keep bellowing…

No, they referenced 39 peer reviewed papers on the topic…which seem to show damage is present…??

But I dont expect anyone to take this seriously, as cell phones are just too popular right now, the industry itself will go to great lengths to protects its revenue, Im sure Govt will assist them in this due to all the tax revenue.

I really dont understand…I mean, we got along just fine before cell phones, I have a feeling, we would be just fine if they were suddenly gone LOL

Again though, when certain things are super popular, risks are sort of pushed to the side, challenged, etc. The same thing has happened many times thru out history, eventually decades down the road, the people then will be laughing about this, saying things like " cant believe all those goofy people back in the early 2000s who didnt listen to the warnings". lol

Not enough time has passed yet…cell phones have really only been super popular (meaning majority of people have them), for roughly 10-12 yrs.

I remember getting my first cell in 2003, it was one of those Nokias, I also remember I was the first person at the company I worked for at the time to get one.

Look at how long it took to convince the public of the dangers of smoking, plus, most people can go 15, 20, 30 yrs smoking until they finally develop serious health problems, it takes time for such things to happen, same thing with cell phones imo.

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