Possible link between breast cancer and cell phone habit

By: Jennifer Pretty Jun 11, 2013
  Editorial
Cell Phone and Breast Cancer

If you’ve spent time with any teenager in the last decade, you’ve noticed their constant attachment to their phones. Now, I’m not saying it’s only a teenage habit as a lot of us have our phones close by all the time too. But, some young women are keeping them closer than we ever would –by hiding them in their bras.  There appears to be some potentially worrying health consequences by stowing your phone so close to your skin.

If you’re wondering why they keep them in their bras, there are a number of reasons. I asked a real 20-year-old and she said “if you don't have a pocket it's very convenient”. Lots of girls use it instead of a handbag when they go clubbing, and there’s even a bra out that has a built-in iPhone pocket. Younger girls also use it as a trick to sneak their cell phones to school without their parents knowing – there’s a wikihow page on how to do it, including tips such as “Turn it off. If your parents see a light in your bra, it’s a ticket to getting it taken away”. So,  it’s safe to say it’s a common practice among young women.

But, what are these consequences? Well, a possible link has emerged between close contact with cell phones and breast cancer. In two separate cases, women who kept phones in their bras developed breast cancer on the exact spot where their phone habitually rested. One of these, Tiffany Franz, was just 21 years old, which is exceptionally young to develop breast cancer. She also had no genetic risk factors, making the cell phone the prime suspect in her cancer.

There is some reasoning behind these allegations. Cell phones emit radiation, and radiation mutates cells. Therefore, if you keep something that’s radiating heat directly on your skin for long periods of time, there’s a chance it will lead to tumours under the skin. The concerns have been raised by Dr. John West and Dr. Lisa Bailey, who are both breast surgeons. Dr. Bailey has 34 years’ experience in the field and they are both experts in breast care, so those are some legitimate concerns.

Don’t throw away your cell phone just yet. There is no strong scientific evidence for the link yet – it’s just anecdotes and conjecture. In 2011, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified cell phones as Category 2B - possibly carcinogenic to humans. That “possibly” speaks volumes – if there had been a proven link, there would be calls for an outright ban on the phones.  After all, once we found out about the skin cancer risks of the sun, didn’t the health agencies have a big push on sunscreen?  As of now, the link between cell phones and breast cancer is just speculation.

Having said that, it doesn’t seem like a good idea to ignore the theory altogether. There are plenty of places to keep your phone that aren’t so close to your skin – a handbag springs to mind. So while the jury’s still out, there’s no harm in changing that particular habit. It might just save your life one day…

 

Until next time,

Peace, love and vitamin C!

 

Jennifer Pretty began her career as the director of artist development for a well-known Canadian music label. Branching out on her own, she then started her own PR business “Pretty Media Management” planning and hosting various charity, entertainment and fashion events. As a dance and fitness class enthusiast Jennifer is a firm believer in the benefits of a healthy, active lifestyle. She also loves to cook, travel, spend time with family and friends and most importantly living life to the fullest!