Will your cell phone give you cancer? Maybe if you’re a rat

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Rumors that cell phone use could lead to cancers have been circulating for decades, but a recent series of studies sheds new light on the situation. A pair of government studies that subjected rats and mice to high levels of cell phone radiation found that it could potentially be linked to cancer. However, the reports noted that the results were inconclusive.

The rat study found a small increase in heart tumors found in the male rats. However, the female rats did not exhibit these problems, nor did the any of the mice used in a separate study.

It is also worth noting that the amount of radiation that these animals were exposed to far exceeds what a person will encounter through standard use of a cell phone. Over the course of two years, the rats and mice were exposed to nine hours of radiation every day at doses that humans would rarely experience.

The recent study did find “equivocal evidence” for an increased amount of DNA damage, brain tumors and other forms of cancer in the rats. However, the reports also said that they did not find sufficient evidence to directly link the increased rate of tumors to cell phone radiation.

In terms of public safety, the studies don’t provide a crystal clear answer, but several experts have said that they believe cell phones are still safe to use.

Upon reading the results of the study, Dr. Otis Brawley, the American Cancer Society’s chief medical officer, told the Associated Press that the study would not change his stance on cell phones, nor would it impact the advice he gives people regarding their use.

“These draft reports are bound to create a lot of concern, but in fact they won’t change what I tell people,” Brawley said. “The evidence for an association between cellphones and cancer is weak. And so far, we have not seen a higher cancer risk in people. But if you’re concerned about this animal data, wear an earpiece.”

The Food and Drug Administration, which commissioned the study, issued a press release stating that it believes that the “current safety limits for cell phones are acceptable for protecting the public health.”