No way cell phones cause cancer, Economist contends

Following a report issued late last month by the World Health Organization suggesting cell phones may be carcinogenic, The Economist has published a response column dismissing the report as overblown. According to the report, low-frequency microwaves such as those emitted by cell phones simply do not have enough power to produce anything but extremely low levels of heat. “No matter how powerful the transmitter, radio waves simply cannot produce ionising radiation,” the column reads. “Only gamma rays, X-rays and extreme ultra-violet waves, which operate in the far (ie, high-frequency) end of the electromagnetic spectrum, along with fission fragments and other particles from within an atom, and cosmic rays (those particles’ equivalents from outer space) are energetic enough to knock electrons off other atoms to break chemical bonds and produce dangerous molecules called free radicals. It is these highly reactive free radicals that damage a person’s DNA, causing mutation, radiation sickness, cancer and death, depending on the dose.” The energy carried by these microwaves, the report contends, is approximately one million times too weak to produce free radicals.

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