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Wednesday, December 8th, 2010 | ISSN 1556-5696

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illustration copyright 2010 by Pat Linse

Cell Phones and Cancer

by Michael Shermer and Bernard Leikind

Ever since the publication of physicist Dr. Bernard Leikind’s article in Skeptic (see eSkeptic for June 9, 2010) and my subsequent column in Scientific American in which I cited Leikind’s arguments (both of which were skeptical of claims that cell phone use causes brain cancer), we have been inundated with letters disputing our skepticism. The letters come in a variety of flavors, so what follows are Dr. Leikind’s responses to the critics that he identifies by their email names. My own response to critics will appear in the next issue of Scientific American, so in the meantime I defer to Dr. Leikind’s responses below, as well as to the SkepDoc Harriet Hall, M.D. along with oncologist Dr. David Gorski, both of whom blog at ScienceBasedMedicine.org, which covers the ongoing controversy over cell phones and cancer.

For example, when I queried her on my critics, Dr. Hall responded to me:

I agree that it is premature to say that cell phones “can’t possibly” cause cancer, although Leikind is correct to say physics shows they can’t possibly do it by the mechanisms that have been commonly proposed. The fact remains: there is no good evidence that cell phones do cause cancer. And so far I’m not convinced by the proposed mechanisms by which they might cause cancer. The radiation/mutation and tissue heating explanations have pretty well been debunked. I’m going to continue to think that cell phones don’t cause cancer — and that there is a high probability that the kind of radiation they emit “can’t” cause cancer — until I see something much more convincing in the way of evidence. If they do somehow cause cancer, studies to date have established that any effect can’t be a very large one. Any potential cancer risk pales against the high risk of accidents from using them while driving, and against the convenience and safety effects of having instant communication.

And I asked Dr. Gorski as well, and he responded to me thusly (with links to further reading):

Basically, as I said, the article is correct in dubbing the idea that cell phone radiation causes cancer as very, very improbable, but I thought Leikind went too far in declaring it “impossible” based a priori on physics because, quite frankly, he completely ignores newer biological understanding of mechanisms of carcinogenesis. As I said in my post, I do not believe that cell phones cause cancer. I consider it highly unlikely and implausible. I do think, however, that declaring it “impossible” is premature. More reading from ScienceBasedMedicine.org:

http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/?p=84
http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/?p=8
http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/?p=3073
http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/?p=3666

And, here’s my explanation on just how complex cancer is:

http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/?p=4832

Finally, Dr. Leikind sent me this wonderful general response to the critics, which I happen to agree with and will be interested in hearing from readers about this ongoing controversy:

It interests me that so many readers see “microwaves from cell phones cannot cause cancer” and understand us to be saying “there are no physiological effects from microwaves.” But our message is not that there are no physiological effects, but that we (the appropriate scientists and engineers) know exactly what the physiological effects of absorbing microwaves are. And those effects cannot cause cancer, and we know this because there are many identical but more powerful similar effects, such as exercise. No one thinks that exercise causes cancer. I also find it persuasive that no one is concerned about cell phone microwaves causing skin cancer. But the radiation is more intense in our hands, ears, and scalp than it is in brains or optic or auditory nerves, and skin cells reproduce many times more frequently than any glial brain cells, and even many more times more frequently than any neuron cells.

Dr. Leikind’s responses to the posted critiques of my and his claims follow:

GreenMind suspects that I may have ties to the cell phone industry. I use an old model Motorola RAZR V3 cell phone and pay T-Mobile about $40 per month for my cell phone service. I would be happy to earn some money from my investigation and writing about cell phones and cancer.

The precautionary principle draws passionate support from public health care professional, Dr. Martin Donohoe. In the case of cell phone microwave radiation, scientists have already done the appropriate research. We know exactly what happens when any material, including living tissue, absorbs microwave radiation. The microwave energy appears as additional shaking, jostling, rattling and rolling of the molecules. In a living human being with her powerful temperature control mechanisms functioning and her blood flowing, we know that there is no potential for microwave radiation from a cell phone to cause significant, widespread or irreparable harm. Therefore, the precautionary principle does not apply. The situation is different when someone invents a new chemical. The precautionary principle would apply to eating cell phones but not to talking on them. It would not apply to texting while driving because the harmful potential is well known.

Freedom for All and dideldum worry about power levels and heating. A cell phone emits about a watt of microwave radiation. Some of that power enters the user’s hand, ear, scalp, skull, and brain and other tissues. To produce this watt of microwave radiation, the cell phone’s electronics must convert somewhat more than a watt of power from its batteries. The excess power and all of the power that goes to operate the circuitry of the phone appears as a temperature increase in the phone. The phone may feel warm. This energy transfers to the user’s hand or ear. Some may transfer to the environment by infrared radiation or convection. This energy does not cause cancer. The temperature increase in the human brain from absorbed cell phone microwave radiation is so small that many researchers mistakenly believe that there are non-thermal effects. The temperature never reaches the various potentially harmful temperatures that Freedom cites.

GreenMind questions Dr. Shermer’s and my statement that there is no known mechanism by which cell phone microwaves might cause cancer. I claim more than that there is no known mechanism. I assert that there is no unknown mechanism.

To summarize, here is the proof. We know exactly what happens to the cell phone microwaves the body absorbs. The energy transfers from the radiation to jostling, jiggling, vibrating and twisting of the molecules. From there, the energy enters to flowing blood, reaches the entire body, and moves to the environment. If the power flow is large, the transfer to the environment will occur primarily by the evaporation of sweat. For the watt or less absorbed from cell phones, the transfer will occur by small changes to the flow of blood to the body’s surface causing slight increases in radiation, conduction, and convection to the environment. There is little temperature increase in a living human being from cell phone microwaves. We know many other processes and effects that produce exactly the same effects at much greater energy and power levels, and all of these are safe and do not cause cancer. Exercise is one such process. Wearing a ski cap is another.

Any researcher who proposes a mechanism by which cell phone radiation might trigger or enhance carcinogenesis is welcome to do so, but must begin with the process described, and also explain why much larger, but otherwise identical processes, do not trigger the proposed mechanism. This thought informs my consideration of the many real and supposed physiological effects of microwave radiation cited by readers.

In the following, I use colloquial language but I could have used the technical terms. Knowledgeable scientists will recognize what these are. I mention specific readers in these notes, but often other readers made similar points.

Richard2010 correctly asserts that it might be possible to modify the complicated and lengthy process by which an initiating incident leads to cancer. He says that microwaves might influence any of the intermediate steps that do not involve breakage of DNA. The only means by which cell phone microwave radiation might influence those steps is through the jiggling, jostling, rocking and rolling that occur when the organism’s thermal control system is functioning. Test tube experiments that do not reproduce the stable temperature conditions in a living organism, however, are not relevant. While some can imagine putative carcinogenic mechanisms from electromagnetic radiation, the only forms of electromagnetic radiation that cause cancer, ultraviolet, X-rays, and gamma rays, operate by breaking chemical bonds in DNA.

Megahurtz, Richard2010, and many other readers assert that microwaves have physiological effects. Some readers cite Russian studies, well known to researchers in this field. Western scientists could not replicate the Russian studies, and do not credit them. Readers point to therapeutic methods. Every therapeutic method that involves microwaves begins with the process I describe. Therapeutic use of microwaves always involves heating tissues.

Monastralblue asserts that microwaves modify chemical bonds or transfer molecules from one quantum state to another nearby state without breaking the bonds. Quantum states of molecules that differ by such a small amount of energy that a microwave photon might cause a transition from one state, the supposedly safe one, to another, the supposedly bad one, will be virtually equally populated in the living organism because of the random shaking, rattling, and rolling of the organism’s molecules. The supposedly bad state will not be empty. If population of the supposed state were bad in some way, carcinogenic or cancer enhancing, then the state would be doing its dirty work at all times.

fscr37 says that Dr. Shermer and I have unstated assumptions and implies that these may be unjustified. The primary scientific assumption that pertains to the question of cell phones and cancer is that the laws of physics apply to biological systems, to organisms, just as they apply to anything else.

The various speculative models, such as the resonance effects to which fscr37 refers, are unphysical and unbiological because they neglect to consider the environment in an organism when they supposedly occur. The energy exchange time, the time it takes for a molecule to transfer energy within its own modes of oscillation or with its neighbors, is about a hundred quadrillionths of a second, 10-13 seconds. This is the result of direct measurements. The oscillation periods of microwave radiation are about a hundred trillionth of a second, 10-10 seconds. That is, molecular jostling will interrupt any buildup of energy by any individual molecule or bond long before the processes frscr37 cites might develop.

Iward notes that the risk that a cell may become cancerous relates to the rate at which it divides. In the brain, for example, neurons divide rarely, if at all, while glial cells divide more often. In adults, brain cancers are gliomas, not neuromas. If there were some effect of microwaves on carcinogenesis related to the division rate of cells, we’d expect that the microwaves might cause skin cancer in phone users’ hands, ears, and scalp. The skin cells divide much more rapidly than any brain cells, and the intensity of the radiation is higher in these skin cells than in any brain cells. Cell phone radiation does not cause skin cancer, and no one fears that it might.

Iward, hereticoftruth, Mark Pine guess that cell phone microwave radiation might have chemical effects other than breaking DNA molecules and refer specifically to denaturing of enzymes. Large, complex biological molecules (and small ones too) take on their shapes through a combination of strong covalent bonds and many weaker chemical bonds, such as hydrogen bonds, van der Waals bonds, and others. Denaturing a molecule refers to the process by which the molecule assumes another form, denaturing. It assumes the denatured form by breaking bonds, mostly weak ones. A cell phone’s microwave radiation absorbed by a living human being cannot denature any biological protein or enzyme unless that radiation can substantially increase the tissue’s temperature in the living organism. High power microwave radiation, much higher than from any cell phone, may damage the cornea in this way. Cooking tissue is bad, but does not cause cancer.

Rivk, tomerg compares microwave cooking with absorbing microwave radiation from a cell phone. Sending microwave power into a roast in a microwave oven causes the temperature of the meat to rise. Sending the same microwave power into a living human being causes the person to sweat with little temperature increase. Dr. Eleanor Adair and others have done this experiment many times. Microwaving a human being causes sweat, not cancer. Can readers guess the difference between a cut of meat and a human being?

Microwaving a person with power levels similar to those of a microwave oven is safe and does not cause cancer. It is not a good idea to microwave a man’s testicles because they prefer temperatures lower than core body temperature. It is a bad idea to microwave your cornea or lens because they have little or no blood supply to provide cooling.

Kiya, jschunke, and pradhangegeorge say that they and other people are hypersensitive to electromagnetic radiation and cite personal experience of these effects from their cell phone use. There is no such thing as electromagnetic sensitivity. It is an imaginary ailment. All double blind tests show that no one can tell if a cell phone or cell phone tower is radiating except through the usual human senses, such as looking at the screen or holding the phone and noting that it is warm. There have been many amusing reports of locals developing vague symptoms when the phone company installs a tower, symptoms that disappear when investigation reveals that the company has not yet installed the amplifiers. Perhaps Kiya would be less prone to headaches if he or she were to choose less annoying people to talk to.

Richard2010 refers to non-thermal effects of microwave radiation. There are none in living organisms, in humans. This fact has not prevented mistaken researchers from doing studies and publishing about non-thermal effects. These researchers mistake the fact that they do not observe a temperature increase with something non-thermal taking place. By their definition, an ice cube melting in a glass of tea or water boiling would be non-thermal effects, but they are thermal effects. Every effect of cell phone microwave radiation must be a thermal effect because the absorbed energy goes into shaking, wiggling, rocking and rolling of the molecules. None of the energy goes anywhere else. If this causes changes to the blood-brain barrier, just to choose one example, then plenty of other things would also cause changes to the blood-brain barrier, such as wearing a ski cap. Wearing a ski cap is safe as long as it doesn’t cover your eyes.

Islesin refers to a comment in Microwave News. This journal has long added to the public’s fears of imagined harm from electromagnetic fields. Scientific American readers may remember the kerfuffle about potential harm from high voltage power lines and household appliances. Microwave News was on the wrong side of that issue too.

On the Internet I am often known as Left Coast Bernard. I say to my neighbor, CaliforniaJoe, that photons are the chunks of energy that carry all forms of electromagnetic radiation, not just visible light.

Agdavis comments on the units in Dr. Shermer’s column, which come from my Skeptic magazine essays. Chemists like to use kJ/mol, kilojoules per mole, which is an energy density, because they like matters relevant to test tube quantities. Using kJ/mol to refer to the energy in a chemical bond is telling us how much energy is in an Avogadro number of bonds, 6 X 1023. An Avogadro number of things is known as a mole, abbreviated mol. A watt-hour is a unit of energy (not a watt per hour); Joules. Physicists would prefer to use a density, just as chemists do. They would refer to Joules/bond or Joules/molecule, while the chemists like Joules per mole, a much larger, test tube sized number. Another reader confuses a mole of cell phones with a mole of photons from a cell phone. Comparing the energy in a mole of chemical bonds with the energy in a mole of microwave photons is correct thinking because it is also comparing the energy in a single bond with the energy in a single photon. The physical effect is, as always, one photon to one bond. Microwave photons do not have sufficient energy to modify any chemical bond, strong or weak.

Monastralblue comments upon safety factors. Here is the way, roughly speaking, that the appropriate organizations establish safety factors for non-ionizing radiation. Since it is a well-established fact that this radiation transfers its energy into tissues as additional shaking, rattling, and rolling, the safety committees find the lowest detectable power level that produces a detectable temperature change, not the lowest level at which some harm occurs. Then they divide this level by 10 or 100. This becomes the official safe level. Exceeding the safe level only means that some temperature increase might be noticed, not that any harm would occur.


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15 Comments »

15 Comments

  1. kennwrite says:

    Now if anyone knows anything about the scientific causality behind colors, he or she would know that pink causes cancer. More people who wear pink than chartreuse have been found to get cancer, so it must be that pink that causes cancer. It’s only proper to be cautious, so if there’s any remote chance that a cell can cause cancer, I’d say to wrap it up in an old chartreuse garment, which is less likely to cause cancer in the handling, and toss that evil communication device in the nearest trash can.

    By the way, brilliant article !

  2. Curmudgeon says:

    Show me a specific case where cell phone use caused cancer! Go ahead and name three! Not possible.

    Recently here in Northern California customers of Pacific Gas & Electric claimed that the “smart” meters being installed to measure electical useage was causing health problems. The 1-watt meter was supposedly emitting an electrical field that caused health issues for “very sensitive” people. Well, if these people were so sensitive that a 1-watt meter installed on the outside of their home posed such a significant health issue, why do they have electricty at all?

    Bogus claims by bogus people.

  3. Dr. Strangelove says:

    If 1 watt of cellphone microwave radiation can cause brain cancer, then sunlight should be even more cancerous. Of course too much exposure to the sun can cause skin cancer due to its ultraviolet radiation, but not brain cancer.

    Per photon, sunlight has more energy than microwave because it covers all the visible light spectrum. Also, the radiation flux of sunlight is higher than cellphone microwave. The solar flux on earth is 342 watts/sq.m. The ave. diameter of human skull is 18 cm giving an area of 0.025 sq.m. Your head gets 8.7 watts of radiation everytime you walk under the sun.

    If the claim that cellphone microwave causes brain cancer were true, don’t expose your head to sunlight because it is 8.7 times more deadly!

    • Dr. Strangelove says:

      Btw, the ability of various radiations to break molecular bonds depends on photon energy rather than radiation intensity. Photon energy is proportional to electromagnetic frequency. Cellphone microwave has frequency of 1.5 to 4.0 Ghz. Violet light which is also contained in white light has frequency of 700,000 Ghz.

      Therefore, white light from your flourescent lamp is 175,000 times more energetic than cellphone microwave. If cellphone is cancerous, flourescent lamp is 175,000 times more cancerous.

  4. Thomas Wamm says:

    What about antenna effects? A receiving antenna in the presence of electromagnetic radiation will have fluctuating voltages induced in it, which can be detected by appropriate circuitry. Normally transmitters and receivers are quite far apart, but a cellphone next to your ear could induce significant voltages into conductive tissues. Neurons have long fibers which might be effective receiving antennas, unlike normal smaller tissue cells. I’ll bet that cellphone towers do not detect cellphone transmissions by their thermal effects on receiving antennas.

    What sort of voltage would a transmitting cellphone induce into a 1cm antenna 10cm away? Can anyone do this experiment? I presume you would need an oscilloscope capable of showing a microwave signal.

    • Bernard Leikind says:

      Mr. Wamm,

      You win your bet. Cell phone towers and other metallic conductors do not detect microwave transmissions by means of thermal effects. The tiny amounts of energy from cell phones that reach the tower’s antenna will eventually end up as thermal jiggling of the metal’s atoms and a tiny temperature increase in the antenna.

      This interesting matter has to do with time scales and with the different nature of tissues and metallic conductors. The period of typical cell phone microwave radiation is a billionth of a second or a bit less. For phones that radiate 2.5 GHz the period is 400 trillionths of a second. A metal is a crystalline structure, a lattice of ions and freely moving electrons. Compared to the period of cell phone microwave radiation, the electrons in the metal move within the lattice for long times before they collide with anything. Large numbers of these electrons easily move in unison with the incoming fields for thousands of oscillations of the fields, for millionths of seconds. This collective motion of the electrons produces the voltages in the antenna. Eventually, however, the electrons hit something, another electron, a lattice ion, even a sound wave, in the metal and exchange some of the energy they have gained. This is the source of the metal’s resistance. Eventually the incoming radiation’s energy transfers into heating within the metal

      Living tissue is different from metallic conductors. There is no crystalline lattice of ions, and there are no free electrons. Positive and negative ions carry currents that flow in tissue. Nature has developed many wonderful methods to control these currents, and the details are too complicated to describe here. Nerves do not carry their signals in the same way that metal wires do. A nerve maintains a small voltage difference between its interior and exterior (a few tens of millivolts) by pumping positive ions one way and negative ones the other way. The signal is a tiny section of the nerve’s axon in which this small voltage is different and that travels along the length of the nerve. In contrast to the electrons in a metal, the ions and molecules involved in cellular electrical phenomena exchange energy with each other in trillionths of a second or less, a few hundred quadrillionths of a second. The ions have barely begun to oscillate in time with the microwave fields before they have bonked into a neighbor and transferred the microwave energy into the general random energy of the tissue.

      In a metal, the energy exchange time for electrons is much longer than the period of the microwaves. In living tissue, the energy exchange time for charged particles is much shorter than the period of the microwaves.

      Consider ultraviolet radiation. The period of this radiation is a thousand times shorter than the energy exchange times, the collision times, in living tissue. Electrons in a chemical bond can oscillate thousands of times, gaining energy from the incoming fields, before exchanging energy with a neighbor. Such electrons might gain enough energy from the ultraviolet radiation to break a bond.

      As for your measurement questions, you are correct that the measurements you propose are easy to do. Physicists and electrical engineers have been making them for decades, and they are part of the reason that I say that we know exactly what happens to microwave radiation when any material, including living tissues, absorb them. The voltage difference along a neuron would be small.

      Many cell phone users wear earrings. Some of these are small linear metallic antennas of the type that you describe or metallic loops. No one worries about voltages on these antennas that arise from cell phone microwaves.

  5. Everett Lautin says:

    You make the compelling case that based on well-understood physics and chemistry cell phones cannot cause cancer. You address various bogus concerns with reasonable responses.
    I would ask if you could additionally respond to a few of the “studies” quoted in a recent New York Times article (November 13, 2010, “Should You Be Snuggling With Your Cellphone?” By Randall Stross. This article draws heavily on a recently published book, “Disconnect” by Devra Davis, Ph.D., M.P.H. The book quotes from numerous studies purportedly showing multiple physiological and epidemiological effects from cell phone radiation.
    The references to this material in the book are of course second hand and there is insufficient detail in the book to judge any defects in the methodologies in the quoted studies. Of course if the quoted studies are poor science, poor epidemiology, and unsound they can be dismissed. Nevertheless, with billions of people being exposed for markedly increased periods of time with pulsed microwave energy from 3G and 4G phones, even a minimal possible evidence of risk should not be ignored. One statement in the book is that cell phone manufactures, in tiny print, recommend holding the phone at least a small distance from your head.” (“…iPhone, five-eighths of an inch.”) The book further quotes an online appendix from either Verizon or the Droid, “To comply with RF exposure requirements, a minimum separation of 1.5 cm must be maintained between the user’s body and the handset, including the antenna.” Separation of the antenna from the body will decrease the radiation entering the body, but why is this important (or is it not important) except possibly to give better reception?
    Are all the studies and claims made in this book bogus poor science? Is the author merely trying to capitalize on this cell phone scare? Is the NY Times article just sensationalist reporting?
    Hopefully the cell phone scare will go away. Presumably they are safe. But millions of people saw the NY Times article. Your comments on some of the quoted studies in the book would be valuable.

    • Bernard Leikind says:

      Mr. Lauten,

      I read Randall Stoss’s column, and I corresponded with him. I have not read Dr. Davis’s book, but I appeared with her on KPCC’s Airtalk call-in public affairs program. The program is here: http://www.scpr.org/programs/airtalk/2010/10/07/cell-phones-on-the-brain/ . She is articulate and effective. It is my impression that she is aware of the arguments and studies on both sides of this issue, but she pays attention to those results that suggest potential harm. She took the researchers’ own assessment of their research at face value and did not look deeper into the quality or plausibility of the results and claims.

      I don’t know why some cell phone manufacturers and carriers suggest that callers hold their phones some small distance away from their ears. These instructions do not arise from any actual harm, since there is none. Perhaps this has to do with the conditions that regulatory agencies specify in their testing protocols. Perhaps it has to do with lawyers’ advice. Anyone who believed that cell phone’s might be harmful pressed against their ears would not like them half an inch away either. It is a strategic mistake for the cell phone manufacturers to do this, in my opinion.

      I can’t comment on the specifics of all the various reports in the scientific literature. Since cell phone radiation cannot cause cancer, there must be flaws in any research that suggests otherwise. These flaws may be in design, execution, or interpretation. Many epidemiological studies that suggest possible harm are small. Studies that show no effect may remain on the researchers’ desks. A researcher who does a well-designed study and finds no effect will likely move on to other research areas. Researchers who do small or poorly designed studies that suggest some harmful effect will conclude that they should do more (poorly designed small) studies. Studies that suggest harmful effects make the news. Studies that find nothing do not make the news. All of these effects create the incorrect feeling in the public that no one knows anything about this issue and that harm is possible.

      Consider the recent, major WHO-Interphone study. I think that this was a good study, but it still led to controversy. This international case-control study compared 6000 brain cancer patients with a matched group of healthy people. The overall result was that cell phone use reduced the risk of brain cancer by a noticeable, but not statistically significant, amount. If the results had shown a small, but not statistically significant, increase in risk, there would have been a big fuss. Since these professional epidemiologists “know” that cell phone use cannot be beneficial, they worked hard to explain away their main result as a statistical fluctuation or improper matching of the cases and controls. Then searching for the evidence of harmful effects that they “knew” must exist, they tried sub-group analysis. As professionals, they know that such analysis is always weaker than the main, large study and prone to error, so they relegated this to an appendix. They were able to find a sub-group with a higher than average risk. All eSkeptic readers will recognize that if a large group has an average value for some property, then some sub-groups must be above average and some below. The researchers called for more study, and the suspicious claimed a cover-up. Dr. Davis knows that the main result of the study is as I say, but she is interested in the sub-group analysis in the Appendix.

  6. nick humphrey says:

    waiting for answers to 4. and 5. =)
    thank you for your responses so far bernard.

  7. Lorne Trottier says:

    See my detailed critique of Disconnect on the web site http://www.emfandhealth.com/. This critique addresses most of your questions.

    • Bernard Leikind says:

      I visited Dr. Trottier’s web site and read his review of Dr. Davis’s Disconnect. I think that Dr. Trottier is knowledgeable about the issues, and his comments on Dr. Davis’s book are worth reading. He is critical of her knowledge of microwaves and of her ability to assess research in this field. Dr. Trottier and his colleagues have posted other useful and informative material dealing with many aspects of electromagnetic fields and health. They are Canadian, so they are calm, levelheaded, sensible, clear thinkers.

  8. Lorne Trottier says:

    By the way, I did write to the author of the NYTimes article shortly after it appeared, and I pointed out some of the many serious errors in Disconnect. This is the lame response that I got:

    Lorne,

    Thanks for your note and extensive discussion of some of these issues, as well as the link to EMFandHealth.

    My column wasn’t a book review of DISCONNECT, but I appreciate your calling attention to arguments and evidence that run contrary to what Davis presented.

    I’m afraid that my allotted 1,000 words could not cover very much ground.

    Cheers,

    Randall Stross

    Digital Domain columnist

    New York Times

  9. Winston Court says:

    One thing is certain, the frequencies used by cell phones is just as efficient at cooking meat as those frequencies used in microwave ovens. If slowly, even slightly, cooking your head does NOT cause cancer, I’d be quite surprised!

    • Bernard Leikind says:

      Winston,

      You are correct that microwaves from cell phones are just as efficient in cooking meat as microwaves from a microwave oven.

      Your head, however, is much more efficient than your turkey at maintaining its temperature. Microwave power that rapidly warms the turkey would have a much smaller effect on your head because of the blood flow through your head. I think that you might feel feverish if you were to beam a thousand times more microwave power into your head than you’d get from any cell phone.

      It is a bad idea, however, to microwave your head at the power levels in a microwave oven (a thousand times larger than any cell phone) because your corneas and lens have very poor blood supplies. It is a bad idea to watch your popcorn popping by putting your eyes up to the microwave oven door.

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