Mobile phones: 'Still no evidence of harm to health'

Woman using mobile phone There are 80 million mobile phones in the UK

Related Stories

There is still no evidence mobile phones harm human health, says a major safety review for the UK's Health Protection Agency (HPA).

Scientists looked at hundreds of studies of mobile exposure and found no conclusive links to cancer risk, brain function or infertility.

However, they said monitoring should continue because little was known about long-term effects.

The HPA said children should still avoid excessive use of mobiles.

It is the biggest ever review of the evidence surrounding the safety of mobile phones.

There are now an estimated 80 million mobiles in the UK, and because of TV and radio broadcasting, Wi-Fi, and other technological developments, the study said exposure to low-level radio frequency fields was almost universal and continuous.

A group of experts working for the HPA looked at all significant research into the effects of low-level radio frequency.

'Relatively reassuring'

They concluded that people who were not exposed above UK guideline levels did not experience any detectable symptoms.

That included people who reported being sensitive to radio frequency.

They also said there was no evidence that exposure caused brain tumours, other types of cancer, or harm to fertility or cardiovascular health.

But they said very little was known about risks beyond 15 years, because most people did not use mobile phones until the late 1990s.

Prof Anthony Swerdlow, who chaired the review group, said it was important to continue monitoring research.

"Even though it's relatively reassuring, I also think it's important that we keep an eye on the rates of brain tumours and other cancers," he said.

"One can't know what the long-term consequences are of something that has been around for only a short period."

There has been speculation about the health effects of using mobile phones for years.

The HPA conducted a previous review in 2003, which also concluded that there was no evidence of harm. But there is now far more research into the subject.

Advice on children

The experts said more work was needed on the effect of radio frequency fields on brain activity, and on the possible association with behavioural problems in children.

They also called for more investigation into the effects of new technology which emits radio frequency, such as smart meters in homes and airport security scanners.

The HPA said it was not changing its advice about mobile phone use by children.

"As this is a relatively new technology, the HPA will continue to advise a precautionary approach," said Dr John Cooper, director of the HPA's centre for radiation, chemical and environmental hazards.

"The HPA recommends that excessive use of mobile phones by children should be discouraged."


More on This Story

Related Stories


This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
  • rate this

    Comment number 283.

    @254"given that the device runs off a battery with a capacity of milliamps which lasts hours even in talk mode"-so true although ONLY applicable if you are close to cellsite and therefore Tx pwr of your phone is very LOW.If you are further away the battery may only last 30min because the Tx pwr is much higher>to compensate for the distance. Being close to the cellsite is by far the safest way.

  • rate this

    Comment number 282.

    268 me.

    Some thing wrong today. Parts of my posts are not appearing.

    But to conclude.
    254. shovehalfpenny
    exactly how are you a scientist?

    My degree in electronic engineering and communications technology tells me I am.

    And the reanimated corpse in my basement lab....

  • rate this

    Comment number 281.

    244.Drunken Hobo

    I'm not saying I believe otherwise but studies have limits.

    1) Cancers/Tumors can take decades to form after exposure. We don't have that time scale.
    2) Habbits are changing, phone use has increased wildly over the last decade.
    3) Most studies focus on adults, ignoring children.
    4) Studies usually are crude, mostly relying on people to accurately remember past habbits.

  • rate this

    Comment number 280.

    256 farkyss
    So are you suggesting we get rid of GM crops (millions will starve), pesticides (billions will starve) and vaccinations (billions will die horribly) because there is absolutely no evidence that they are unsafe?
    Funny, last time I checked we have been living far longer since advances in food production and vaccinations, but I must have been wrong.

  • rate this

    Comment number 279.


    Vaccination doesn't cause autism, SOME specific vaccinations have been linked to autism. In India the Polio vaccination program has left 47,000 infants permanently paralysed. Do vaccinations do more good than harm? almost certainly, that doesn't mean the side-effects don't exist. Improved diagnosis doesn't account for meteoric rises in autism, child cancer, asthma, skinprobs,

  • rate this

    Comment number 278.

    @268 - the head may be 'mainly water'. But before you get to that bit? You've a fair bit of cranium to get through.

    You've still not explained how a device which emits in the low milliwatt range is somehow more dangerous than other household devices which emit at higher ranges, the inverse square law notwithstanding. I presume that you are using a PC to post up these concerns of yours?...

  • rate this

    Comment number 277.

    The suggestion that it MAY do harm means that nobody can
    make spurious claims - as has been done with electricity meters
    and substations.

    So - all you dead-beats who have wasted £1000s of legal aid - get a job!

  • rate this

    Comment number 276.

    You cannot put the toothpaste back into the tube.
    You definitely had to get the transmitters switched off, if you were working within metres of cell site. However, this applies to very few people.
    Surely, peer reviewed science and Utilitarianism have to be the measure?

  • rate this

    Comment number 275.

    I must admit I do get pains in my third ear.

  • rate this

    Comment number 274.

    Get your Tin Foil Hats Here. Only £3.99, or three for £10.00. Buy two sets and receive a free pair of matching mitts.

  • rate this

    Comment number 273.

    Read the item on my website to learn about the electronics explanation for danger, with safety advice.

    Copy/paste then Google the following to go there:-

    At one extreme, we see the 'crazy fringe view' of those who would argue with almost anything, and at the other, those who say everything is OK. Most of what we read comes from those with a direct financial interest of some kind or another.

  • rate this

    Comment number 272.

    235 avagiraffe

    my original comment has nothing to do with mobile phones but where else can I publish evidence that this media corporation which I pay for and is supposed to work for the people has once again been caught spinning the facts for the government as it prepares to wage another war for oil. Iranian civilians will die as a result of repeated lies.

  • rate this

    Comment number 271.

    I've been using a mobile phone since they came what was the question?

  • rate this

    Comment number 270.

    Living is a risky business. Going down the mines was detrimental to the miners' lives, but it provided the country with fuel (albeit fossil fuel) and employment for the miners. We feel the need to be in touch (instantly) with one another, so we take the risks. Evidence or no evidence, I find my mobile beneficial and would not be without it, even though it is just a bog standard version.

  • rate this

    Comment number 269.

    "But they said very little was known about risks beyond five years, because most people did not use mobile phones until the late 1990s."

    We still don't know the long-term effects of mobile phone use. That's the message everyone should take away from this article. I'm no technophobe, but I like to be prudent.

  • rate this

    Comment number 268.

    254. shovehalfpenny

    Mobile phones have an asymmetric field density pattern, designed to minimise the radiation being sent to the head. As the head is mainly water, it is also a good absorber of microwaves, so this maximises the free air transmission. Because of proximity, the 50%.

  • rate this

    Comment number 267.

    "I remember when small CRT computer monitors came to the office in the late 80's. Unions were up in arms about the dangers

    I can testify to these dangers being very real - they cause muscle strain to the eye. Additionally, sitting at a computer for hours a day, for years is having serious repercussions on people's spinal/muscular health as any good chiropractor will testify.

  • rate this

    Comment number 266.

    232 chiptheduck

    On that basis, should I steer clear of Loch Ness for fear of being dragged to a horrible, bitey death by the Monster?

    I know there's no reliable emprirical evidence for its existence, and the biology strongly suggests that it couldn't exist but, as you say, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence!

  • rate this

    Comment number 265.

    @261 There is NO! conspiracy theory on my part at all, we may just not able to see the link.

  • rate this

    Comment number 264.

    Check out for an American organization against texting and phoning while driving.


Page 7 of 21


More Health stories



BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.