Are mobile phones harmful?

Acta Oncol. 2000;39(8):927-30. doi: 10.1080/02841860050215891.


There is increasing public interest in health risks of mobile phone use. Although there is a vast body of material on the biological effects of radiofrequency fields, current risk assessment is still limited. The article describes several hypotheses and results of biological effects such as thermal effect, genetic and carcinogenic effects and cancer related investigations. Mobile phones transmit and receive waves of frequencies mainly at 800-1800 MHz. Findings on the thermal effect of acute exposure to radiofrequency fields were consistent, resulting in an increase of cellular, tissue or body temperature by 1 degree C or more. Guidelines for risk limits are based on this thermal effect. Experimental investigation suggests that radiofrequency fields are not tumor initiators and that if they are related to carcinogenicity, this would be by tumor promotion or by increasing the uptake of carcinogens in cells. Implications of these experimental results on public health concerns are yet unclear. Few epidemiological studies are available on the use of mobile phones or on the radiofrequency exposure and the development of cancer. Most of these studies have no or little quantitative exposure data and they are limited by the small number of observations. Large epidemiological studies are necessary in order to investigate the use of mobile phones on the development of cancer. It should be emphasized that even a small elevated risk may have a large implication for public health, as the use of mobile phones and the exposure is rapidly increasing.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Traffic
  • Animals
  • Chromosomes / radiation effects
  • DNA / radiation effects
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Neoplasms / etiology
  • Radio Waves / adverse effects*
  • Telephone*


  • DNA