Cell Phones

In recent years, the number of cell phone users in Canada has grown dramatically and there are five billion users worldwide.

Some research suggests a possible link between the use of cell phones and brain tumours but much more research is needed.

The World Health Organization (WHO) (May 2011) and Health Canada (October 2011) ** offer precautions for cell phone users who are concerned:

  • Parents should limit their children's use of cell phones
  • Reduce exposure to radio-frequency energy by limiting the number and length of cellphone calls
  • Using a mobile phone 30-40cm away from their body - for example by substituting text messages or chats in the place of phone-to-ear cellphone calls
  • Using a hands free device
  • Using the phone in areas of good reception also decreases exposure as it allows the phone to transmit at reduced power
  • Parents should limit their children's use of cell phones.

How to limit wireless exposure

Here are some tips for reducing exposure to electromagnetic radio-frequency waves, based on the precautionary principle:

  • Turn off cellphones or tablets when not needed, or turn on airline mode
  • Keep cellphones away from your head as much as possible. Use speakerphone mode or earbuds for phone calls rather than a Bluetooth headset. Don’t carry your phone in your pocket or bra
  • Do not sleep with wireless devices near you
  • Keep cellphones and tablets away from small children
  • Use a wired baby monitor instead of a wireless unit. Do not place a wireless baby monitor by your child’s bed. Use a wired monitor instead
  • Use hardwired Internet connections for computers in your home instead of using WiFi. Turn wireless router off at night; do not keep it in high-use or sleeping areas
  • Pregnant women should keep wireless devices away from the abdomen
  • Avoid cordless phones.

Sources: Canadians For Safe Technology; Health Canada

** This link is currently broken, please see more links from Health Canada and the Government of Canada below.

More links from Health Canada

More links from the Government of Canada

Watch this page for links to published research and articles as they become available.

You can download this information as an Information Sheet (pdf)
Update, April 20, 2017: Italian court finds link between cellphone use and tumour. Read the Winnipeg Free Press article
Update, March 24, 2017: The Secret inside your phone. Watch CBC Marketplace
Update, February 15, 2016: Mobile phones and brain cancer: ‘no evidence of health risk’ is not the same as 'safe'. Read more from UK newspaper, The Guardian.
Update, June 18, 2015: House of Commons committee warns of dangers posed by cellphone signals, though the scientific evidence is mixed. Read more in this article in the National Post.
Update, June 1, 2015: The federal government should do more to warn Canadians about the dangers of Wi-Fi, cellphones and baby monitors, some MPs on the Commons health committee say. Read this article from Huffington Post Canada for more information.
Update, May 13, 2015: The city council of Berkeley, California, voted Tuesday night to pass a cellphone "right to know" law requiring health warnings with the purchase of a cellphone. Read more in this article from CBS News.
Update, May 11, 2015: Worries about exposure to EM-RF fields were recently raised before the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Health, which heard three days of submissions from international medical experts, advocacy groups and industry players. See this Globe and Mail article for more information
Update, October 22, 2012: A judge in Italy has again raised the spectre of cellphones causing cancer, ruling that a man in that country suffered a brain carcinoma due to his years of incessantly using mobiles. But Canadian cancer statistics show no apparent connection. See this CBC story for more information.
Update, October 24, 2011: A recently released Danish study of more than 350,000 people has shown no difference in cancer rates between people who had used cell phones for more than a decade and people who hadn't. Read the medical journal article to learn more.
Update, October 5, 2011: Health Canada has slightly revised their recommendations around cell phone use with an suggestion that parents limit their children's exposure to using the devices for phone calls. You can read a recent CBC News story on the topic or explore the recommendations below.

For more information about brain tumours contact Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada via our toll free information and support line Monday to Friday 8:30am 4:03pm, eastern (1-800-265-5106).

Materials provided by Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada are not intended to replace the advice or instruction of a professional healthcare practitioner, or to substitute for medical care. We urge you to seek specific medical advice on individual matters of concern. This information is for educational purposes only.

Return to Information Sheets here.


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