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Minimize Exposure to Radiation from Wireless Communications

Radiation from wireless communication devices (WCDs) and associated transmitters was declared a possible carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), in 2011.[1,2] Reviews in 2013, including more recent research, found justification to upgrade the classification to “probable” or “known.”[3,4] Now a 2014 study found that over about a decade, brain cancer risks quadrupled with cell phone use for 15 hours a month, and tripled with 900 hours or more of use.[5]

WCDs include cellular and cordless phones, tablets, wifi, baby monitors, “smart” meters, wifi enabled appliances and other devices. It is wise to minimize exposures to the radiation in telecommunications.

Here are some ideas:

  • When possible, always text rather than talk.
  • Use wires/cables/fibre at home, work and school.
  • Distance is your friend! Keep your wireless devices as far away as possible.
  • Be strategic using your device, communicating when the signal is strong and turning it off when possible.
  • Choose the safest devices.

Here are all of PCN’s tips on how to minimize exposure to microwave radiation in a printer-friendly format.


According to the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), there are almost as many cellphone subscriptions as there are people in the world (96% of the population), with internet data plans also increasing (over 60% of subscriptions in North America and 75% in Europe).

Transmission of all this information requires cell phone towers and other infrastructure, and the rules and roles of Canadian federal, provincial and local regulators and politicians are somewhat in flux. Individuals have less control over radiation from towers than they have over devices they own, but can seek more protective policies. A 2014 review [5] argues for precautionary regulation of cellphone infrastructure.

Health Canada’s guideline for exposure to radiofrequency radiation was reviewed by the Royal Society of Canada in 2014.[7] Standards have remained almost unchanged since 1979, while China, Russia, Italy and Switzerland have wireless radiation limits that are 100 times safer than Canada’s.[8]


  1. Baan R, Grosse Y, Lauby-Secretan B, El Ghissassi F, Bouvard V, Benbrahim-Tallaa L, et al. Carcinogenicity of radiofrequency electromagnetic fields. Lancet Oncol. 2011 Jul;12(7):624–6.
  2. International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). Non-Ionizing Radiation, Part 2: Radiofrequency Electromagnetic Fields [Internet]. 2013 [cited 2013 Sep 2]. Available here.
  3. Hardell L, Carlberg M, Hansson Mild K. Use of mobile phones and cordless phones is associated with increased risk for glioma and acoustic neuroma. Pathophysiology. 2013 Apr;20(2):85–110.
  4. Davis DL, Kesari S, Soskolne CL, Miller AB, Stein Y. Swedish review strengthens grounds for concluding that radiation from cellular and cordless phones is a probable human carcinogen. Pathophysiology. 2013 Apr;20(2):123–9.
  5. Coureau G, Bouvier G, Lebailly P, Fabbro-Peray P, Gruber A, Leffondre K, et al. Mobile phone use and brain tumours in the CERENAT case-control study. Occup Environ Med. 2014 May 9;oemed–2013–101754.
  6. Roda C, Perry S. Mobile phone infrastructure regulation in Europe: Scientific challenges and human rights protection. Environ Sci Policy. 2014 Mar;37:204–14.
  7. Kolb B, Demers P, Findlay R, Moulder J, Nicol A-M, Prato F, et al. A Review of Safety Code 6 (2013): Health Canada’s Safety Limits for Exposure to Radiofrequency Fields [Internet]. Expert Panel of the Royal Society of Canada; 2014 Spring. Available here.
  8. Gandhi OP, Morgan LL, de Salles AA, Han Y-Y, Herberman RB, Davis DL. Exposure Limits: The underestimation of absorbed cell phone radiation, especially in children. Electromagn Biol Med. 2012 Mar;31(1):34–51.

Internet resources, and groups working for safer technologies


  • Devra Davis, PhD, MPH. Disconnect: The Truth About Cell Phone Radiation. Environmental Health Trust, 2013. ISBN 9780991219902.
  • Martin Blank, PhD. Overpowered: The Dangers of Electromagnetic Radiation. New York: Seven Stories Press, 2014. ISBN 9781609805098.
  • Samuel Milham, MD, MPH. Dirty Electricity: Electrification and the Diseases of Civilization. Bloomington: iUniverse Star, 2012. ISBN 9781938908187.

U.S. Government Study on Cell Phone-like Radiation

More threads of evidence are aligning that microwave, radiofrequency radiation (RFR) causes cancer. The first reports are emerging from a world leader in determining hazards and risks of environmental agents, the U.S. National Toxicology Program (NTP), within the U.S. National Institutes of Health. This follows on human studies linking cell phone use to brain tumours and increasing incidence of these specific tumours in young Americans, the latest piece of the puzzle is strong evidence of cancer in animal experiments.


Brain tumours now the most frequent form of cancer in U.S. adolescents: Ground-breaking American study

Are worst fears about mobile phones being realized?

MARCH 7, 2016

The following content is offered for reprint, with attribution to Prevent Cancer Now and link to original webpage.

Sobering statistics

Brain tumours are now the leading cancer in American adolescents, and incidence is rising in young adults according to the largest, most comprehensive analysis of these age groups to date.

Canada is undoubtedly similar. “The astounding increases reported in this study, especially in young people, mirror what I am seeing in my clinic,” responded Dr. Jacob Easaw, from the Tom Baker Cancer Centre in Calgary. “Canada is in the process of establishing a comparable brain tumour registry, so these analyses will not be available here for 15 or 20 years. I am increasingly convinced that mobile phones are a major cause, and urgent action is needed.”

Time for a cancer prevention strategy for young Canadians!

A 2015 Parliamentary Health Committee hearing into Canada’s exposure standards for radiofrequency radiation made extensive recommendations, including more scientific research and better review, precautionary advice to minimize exposures, and use of safer technologies. “Cancer prevention should include pragmatic actions on contributors to cancer. A brain tumour registry is an important facet of a proposed broader Canadian Environmental Health Information Infrastructure project – a collaborative effort of scientists and physician researchers to enable earlier detection of harmful effects, by meshing environmental and health information,” said Ottawa hematologist and researcher, Dr. Richard van der Jagt.

Safer Tech Tips

Use wired options whenever possible at home, work and school. Radiation intensity decreases further from the source, so if you must use a wireless device, use speakerphone or a headset. Device instructions say to keep devices away from the body, or put on “airplane” mode to stop emissions that otherwise continue while the device is on, even when not actively being used. Pediatricians recommend limiting children’s screen time; they should use only wireless-disabled devices. If you must use wi-fi, put the wireless network source (e.g., router, modem) on a timer so it is off when not in use. For more information and tips, Prevent Cancer Now’s radiofrequency radiation page is here.

For more information, please contact:

Meg Sears, PhD
Chair and Science Advisor, Prevent Cancer Now

Richard van der Jagt, MD, FRCP(C)
Ottawa Hospital (General Campus)
Div. Hematology
University of Ottawa

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Prevent Cancer Now is a Canadian national civil society organization including scientists, health professionals and citizens working to stop cancer before it starts, through research, education and advocacy to eliminate preventable causes of cancer.


Increasing certainty re. brain tumours and wireless devices

In 2011, radiofrequency radiation (RFR) from wireless communications devices was declared a “possible carcinogen” by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). Subsequent studies of phone use by people with brain tumours compared with healthy people (case-control studies) strengthened evidence of more cancers with greater exposure, measured as years of use, cumulative hours, more calls, or starting earlier in life. If repeated today, IARC may well conclude “probable” or “known” carcinogen.

Scientists were alarmed, but increasing rates of rare cancers may not be immediately obvious, especially if tumour registries are not scrupulously maintained. For example, Swedish in-patient records indicated a 23% increase in brain tumours from 2008 to 2013, although under-reporting meant that no increase was seen in the Swedish Cancer Registry.

Now, however, with more cellular phone subscriptions than people in the US, this high quality American registry indicates clearly increasing brain tumours.

Testicular and breast cancer

While brain tumours predominate among adolescents, testicular cancer is diagnosed more frequently in young adult males. In Canadian males 15-29 years, testicular cancer increased 2.7% per year between 1996 and 2005. Phones carried in pockets may contribute, as sperm are damaged by radiofrequency radiation exposure from phones in pockets and laptops. Young women habitually carrying phones in bras are developing characteristic breast cancers.

Overall cancers in the young

Cancer is increasing overall in Canadian adolescents and young adults (15-29 years) according to the Public Health Agency of Canada. From 1996 to 2005 cancer incidence rates increased:

  • 0.8% per year in males; testicular cancer increased 2.7% per year
  • 1.4% per year in females; thyroid cancer increased 6.5% per year

US Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) data indicates that cancers in 0-19 year olds increased 20%, between the averaging periods 1975-1984 and 2004-2012. Another analysis indicates a 35% increase in young people between 1975 and 2010, with adolescent and young adult cancers increasing the most rapidly, apart from rates in adults over 65 years of age (cancer increases with age).

Canada offers only recent child cancer incidence data, but longer term data is available south of the border.

With a smaller population (hence greater random data scatter) and a shorter time-frame, the Public Health Agency of Canada reports no change in incidence among those 0-14 years old or adolescents 15-19 years, between 1992 and 2007. The overlap between Canadian and US Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) data, however, suggests that Canada may be on the same long-term trend of increasing incidence among our youngest.

Some Key Scientific References:

  1. Ostrom, Quinn T., Haley Gittleman, Peter M. de Blank, Jonathan L. Finlay, James G. Gurney, Roberta McKean-Cowdin, Duncan S. Stearns, et al. “American Brain Tumor Association Adolescent and Young Adult Primary Brain and Central Nervous System Tumors Diagnosed in the United States in 2008-2012.” Neuro-Oncology 18, no. suppl 1 (January 1, 2016): i1–50. doi:10.1093/neuonc/nov297.
  2. IARC Monographs on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans. Volume 102 (2013). Non-Ionizing Radiation, Part 2: Radiofrequency Electromagnetic Fields. Available at: http://monographs.iarc.fr/ENG/Monographs/vol102/index.php Accessed March 5, 2016.
  3. Coureau, Gaëlle, Ghislaine Bouvier, Pierre Lebailly, Pascale Fabbro-Peray, Anne Gruber, Karen Leffondre, Jean-Sebastien Guillamo, et al. “Mobile Phone Use and Brain Tumours in the CERENAT Case-Control Study.” Occupational and Environmental Medicine, May 9, 2014, oemed – 2013–101754. doi:10.1136/oemed-2013-101754.
  4. Hardell, Lennart, and Michael Carlberg. “Re: Mobile Phone Use and Brain Tumours in the CERENAT Case–control Study.” Occupational and Environmental Medicine 72, no. 1 (January 1, 2015): 79–79. doi:10.1136/oemed-2014-102448.
  5. Coureau, Gaëlle, Karen Leffondre, Anne Gruber, Ghislaine Bouvier, and Isabelle Baldi. “Author’s Response: Re ‘Mobile Phone Use and Brain Tumours in the CERENAT Case–control Study.’” Occupational and Environmental Medicine 72, no. 1 (January 1, 2015): 79–80. doi:10.1136/oemed-2014-102649.
  6. Hardell, Lennart, and Michael Carlberg. “Mobile Phone and Cordless Phone Use and the Risk for Glioma – Analysis of Pooled Case-Control Studies in Sweden, 1997–2003 and 2007–2009.” Pathophysiology 22, no. 1 (January 3, 2015): 1–13. doi:10.1016/j.pathophys.2014.10.001.
  7. Hardell, Lennart. “Pooled Analysis of Case-Control Studies on Acoustic Neuroma Diagnosed 1997-2003 and 2007-2009 and Use of Mobile and Cordless Phones.” International Journal of Oncology, July 22, 2013. doi:10.3892/ijo.2013.2025.
  8. Adams, Jessica A., Tamara S. Galloway, Debapriya Mondal, Sandro C. Esteves, and Fiona Mathews. “Effect of Mobile Telephones on Sperm Quality: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.” Environment International 70 (September 2014): 106–12. doi:10.1016/j.envint.2014.04.015.
  9. Avendaño, Conrado, Ariela Mata, César A Sanchez Sarmiento, and Gustavo F Doncel. “Use of Laptop Computers Connected to Internet through Wi-Fi Decreases Human Sperm Motility and Increases Sperm DNA Fragmentation.” Fertility and Sterility 97, no. 1 (January 2012): 39–45.e2. doi:10.1016/j.fertnstert.2011.10.012.
  10. West, John G., Nimmi S. Kapoor, Shu-Yuan Liao, June W. Chen, Lisa Bailey, and Robert A. Nagourney. “Multifocal Breast Cancer in Young Women with Prolonged Contact between Their Breasts and Their Cellular Phones.” Case Reports in Medicine 2013 (September 18, 2013): e354682. doi:10.1155/2013/354682.

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Prevent Cancer Now is a Canadian national civil society organization including scientists, health professionals and citizens working to stop cancer before it starts, through research, education and advocacy to eliminate preventable causes of cancer.


Scientific Review to Support Public Policy Regarding Exposure to Radiation from Wireless Communications Devices

By Meg Sears M.Eng. Ph.D and Marg Friesen M.Sc.
(June 15th, 2015)

Presented at the Annual Meeting of the Bioelectromagnetics Society
and the European BioElectromagnetics Association
(JUNE 14-19, 2015 / CALIFORNIA, USA)

UPDATE: Federal politicians listened! We now await Health Canada’s actions…
Parliamentary Standing Committee on Health Issues Recommendations to Address Exposures to Radiation from Wireless Devices, Educate Canadians, and Conduct Research and Rigorous Scientific Review
(as recommended by Prevent Cancer Now to Health Canada and to the World Health Organization).

Devra Davis PhD MPH Delivers Dean’s Lecture at The University of Melbourne on Mobile Phone and Wireless Radiation

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Updated: June 16, 2016

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