Could wireless headphones give you cancer?

200 Scientists could not move lawmakers on this issue

Today, no progress has been made despite 4 year of heavy campaigning against wireless headphones by cancer awareness groups. In 2015, 200 scientists signed a petition, which stated that there was a possibility that wireless devices were unsafe. However, experts disagree and say that the radiation emitted by these is much lower than those from mobile phones. Fears about these devices were recently re-kindled after Medium published an article about the cancer risk posed by wireless headphones.

The question going through the minds of millions of wireless headphone users right now must be: to keep or not? The answer is probably not that simple.

Jerry Phillips, a biochemistry professor at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, is quoted in the Medium article, and said that he believes that wireless headphones are not as safe as we believe. He expressed his concerns that AirPods expose the tissues in the head to relatively high levels of radiation during their use in the ear canal. Risks involved with their use include abnormal cell functioning, which according to him, may cause tumors and other health problems.

No sooner had the article appeared, a petition, signed by 250 scientists in 2015, re-surfaced. The researchers represented more than 40 countries and presented the document to the United Nations (UN) and World Health Organization (WHO) at the time, warning of an increased cancer risk to those using Bluetooth devices.  They urged these organizations to strengthen guidelines and regulatory standards because of the non-ionizing electromagnetic fields used by wireless devices. They also warned of the dangers of radio-frequency radiation emitting devices (mobile phones and Wi-Fi are two examples).

Most scientists agree that radiation levels from headphones and Bluetooth devices are very low, and even though there is no safe level of exposure, it is not possible for any of us to avoid it. The reason for that is that radiation is found in our food, emitted by the sun and we are exposed to it even as we fly in airplanes.

Even as some scientists warn against their use, others are saying that the harm from mobiles is definitely worse and that we are better off by using headphones which emit low levels of radiation.

Kenneth Foster, a professor of bio-engineering at the University of Pennsylvania, has studied the effects of wireless radiation on human health. He is also quoted in the same article and points out that the WHO, and other public health organizations, have analyzed the literature on wireless technology and have not found clear evidence that human health is affected as the levels of radiation are below the set limits.

Studies into wireless headphones are still inconclusive but most researchers and the American Cancer organization specify that all depends on the type of use each person makes of their devices, whether these are mobile phones or wireless headphones. On their site we can read the conclusion from various studies and also tips on how to decrease exposure risks. They urge that parents limit the amount of time that their children are exposed and also texting instead of talking.

The low levels of radiation emitted by headphones are not enough to warrant throwing them away. Dr Michael Schulder, Director of Northwell Health’s Brain Tumor Center in Lake Success, New York, recently expressed his opinion on wireless headphones in an article published by Men’sHealth, saying that those who could do without them should avoid buying them. He also said that those that enjoy using them need not give them up, since they emit less radiation than mobiles.

Since none of us can prevent our exposure to electromagnetic fields or radiation, coming from devices and from other sources around us, then it seems that we might just as well hold on to our AirPods.

Gonçalo Moreira Rato

Gonçalo Moreira is a tech fanatic and a hardcore Xbox/PC fan. He moved onto the Xbox One and then a Gaming PC after giving up his beloved Xbox 360. He's loving the PC Gaming so far and enjoying every moment of it.
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