Do cell phones and microwaves cause cancer?

Who has not ever wondered if microwaves cause cancer ? Or rather, who has not been told by a suspicious grandmother or aunt that these devices are loaded by the devil and that the safest thing is to heat the milk in the saucepan of a lifetime?

Actually, these tribulations right now should ring nostalgic in our heads to the beat of When you where young by The Killers. It turns out that we have been tearing our clothes all our lives and feeling guilty for heating the milk in the microwave, but we all carry our phones in our pockets, and what is worse, in our ears, for much of the day. It’s funny how those same grandmothers who defend the saucepan have learned to use WhatsApp without considering anything. Some snot are blown and others are sucked.


A few months ago, in October 2014, the WHO published a note on the question in which they explain the results of INTERPHONE, the largest study to date that has been carried out on adults to see if there is any association between the use of mobile phones and head and neck cancer. The study has revealed that over ten years there has been no increase in cases of meningioma and glioma.

Despite everything, the International Agency for Research on Cancer does not get too wet. The study found evidence of an increased risk of glioma in the group that was in the highest 10% of hours of phone use, that is, it could be that those who use it the most are more likely. Although due to errors and biases it cannot be affirmed that a true causal relationship exists, in order not to get their fingers caught, these gentlemen have decided to include radiofrequency electromagnetic fields in group 2B (possibly carcinogenic to humans but with limited and inconclusive studies ). What amounts to a full-blown flies , which has been widely criticized by the scientific community.

Actually, it seems that the gentlemen of the WHO like to go a bit Socratic and pretend that they only know that they know nothing. It is understandable that they cannot make clear statements, and that it is necessary to continue investigating (the subsequent retaliation in the event of a blunder would be terrible) but the truth is that today, 20 years after investigating radio frequency electromagnetic fields, gutting cell phones, microwaves, and analyzing the bodies of their users, there is no solid evidence linking their use to cancer. There is no justification for fear.

There is currently a study underway called COSMOS that will look at the phone-cancer relationship for over 20 years and another called MOBIKIDS in children. That is, it will take a few years to have more data (and hope that these data are conclusive and not subject to errors and biases like the previous ones).



In Spain the AECC is very clear in its statements. You can consult this report that contains on its pages 17, 18 and 19 a series of questions and answers far from all ambiguity. The bottom line is that, until proven otherwise, these devices can be used with ease (even living near a repeater antenna without having nightmares).



You listen to radiation and think of Homer Simpson clad in an Ebola suit. At least. However, it is important to distinguish between ionizing and non-ionizing radiation.

The ionizing radiation such as gamma rays or of X – rays (and hence protection when X – rays) are those that can cause havoc by damaging the DNA of cells. There is damage that can be immediate like burns and another that can be long-term like cancer.

Non- ionizing radiation such as from mobile phones, computers or microwaves are low frequency and do not cause DNA damage like the previous ones. In the case of the microwave, the waves remain inside the oven (they all have a blocking system): they do not leave the outside, much less remain swarming in the food. Food that comes out of the microwave just comes out hot (probably unevenly hot) but not radioactive. There is also no evidence that the microwave destroys nutrients in food.(Or, rather, that destroys them to a greater extent than other types of cooking). In fact, the microwave is a great way to steam vegetables, conveniently covered to preserve their properties. As explained in this Harvard article , the fact that microwave cooking times are short and that they do not need to be submerged in water makes vitamins and minerals better preserved than with other types of cooking. Yes, read me carefully dear Tigerbecause I said better, not the same. You do not know how cute your girls would be eating broccoli trees in the microwave with all their properties. The longer the heating lasts, the more likely it is that the nutrients will be lost, and with the cooking water, many will disappear so as not to return. In fact, it is not necessary for the guys from Harvad to say it, in the Culinary Technology classes at the Complutense they also tell it (but just quoting the Americans it is more credible, each one is sensational in his own way).


The Apothecary’s advice

These are relatively new devices (note, the microwave was commercialized in 1947) whose possible effects on health must be studied further. However, in the same way that a biological cause has been observed between tobacco and cancer, the relationship between the electromagnetic radiation of these clunkers and cancer is about to appear (and has been sought with insistence). Therefore, prudence is the mother of science, but one should not be more papist than the pope. Of course, do me the favor of buying a quality microwave, so that it does not show us the leg of radiation under the door.

Regardless of whether cell phones and microwaves can cause cancer , I would worry about two things that there is evidence that causes their misuse and that are not so sensational, however: traffic accidents due to distractions with mobile phones and obesity from all the precooked foods (pizzas, lasagnas …) that we indolently put in the microwave. In the end, the secret is not in Grandma’s saucepan, but in the dough .


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