Landmark Federal Study: ‘Clear Evidence’ Linking Cellphone Radiation to Cancer

WASHINGTON – The largest-ever animal study of cellphone radiation effects, released today by the National Toxicology Program, or NTP, confirms earlier evidence from human studies that cellphone radiation increases the risk of cancer. EWG said the findings reinforce the need for people, especially children, to exercise caution when using cellphones and other radiation-emitting devices.

The research found that male rats exposed to radiation of the type used in 2G and 3G cell phone networks had a greater chance of developing malignant brain cancer, tumors in the heart and tumors in other organs. Various tumors were also observed in mice exposed to radio-frequency radiation. The amount of radiation to which the laboratory animals were exposed included the levels emitted by cellphones that millions of people, including children, use every day.

“This report should raise alarms for policymakers and awareness for all Americans,” said Olga Naidenko, Ph.D., senior science advisor for children’s environmental health at EWG. “These studies should have been done before more than 90 percent of Americans, including millions of children, started using this technology day in and day out.”

The landmark study took a decade to complete and has been reviewed by an authoritative group of external scientists not associated with the federal research program.

In a press release, John Bucher, Ph.D., an NTP senior scientist, stated, “We believe that the link between radio frequency radiation and tumors in male rats is real, and the external experts agreed.”

Earlier this year, Italian scientists published a similar study of cellphone effects on laboratory animals, which also found that cellphone radiation increased the risk of heart and brain tumors. In 2011, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer declared the kind of radiation emitted by cellphones as a “possible carcinogen,” based on human epidemiological studies that found increased gliomas and acoustic neuromas in long-term cellphone users.

Today, 2G and 3G wireless networks are being replaced with 5G networks, which use a distinct and untested form of radio frequency. As EWG reported, the Federal Communications Commission is bowing to industry lobbyists and clearing the way for 5G installation in a way that would bypass federal environmental laws.

Meanwhile, parents and concerned government agencies are advocating for children to spend less time on cellphones and other wireless devices. As The New York Times reported this week, parents in Silicon Valley, the community that helped make cellphones so irresistible, are growing increasingly concerned about the effects of technology on kids' development.

In December 2017, the State of California issued official guidelines advising cellphone users to keep phones away from their bodies. When the groundbreaking guidelines were made public, the state’s Department of Public Health Director Karen Smith said:

Simple steps, such as not keeping your phone in your pocket and moving it away from your bed at night, can help reduce exposure for both children and adults … Children’s brains develop through the teenage years and may be more affected by cell phone use. Parents should consider reducing the time their children use cell phones and encourage them to turn the devices off at night.

To help concerned consumers take steps to protect themselves and their families, EWG has created tools and tips that can help reduce exposure to cellphone radiation. Our advice is detailed in EWG’s Guide to Safer Cellphone Use and Six Questions about Cellphone Radiation and Your Health.



The Environmental Working Group is a non-profit, non-partisan organization that empowers people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment. Through research, advocacy and unique education tools, EWG drives consumer choice and civic action.

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