Saliva from heavy cell phone users shows increased risk factors for cancer, says researcher

July 29, 2013, Tel Aviv University
Saliva from heavy cell phone users shows increased risk factors for cancer, says researcher

Scientists have long been worried about the possible harmful effects of regular cellular phone use, but so far no study has managed to produce clear results. Currently, cell phones are classified as carcinogenic category 2b – potentially carcinogenic to humans – by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). A new Tel Aviv University study, though, may bring bad news.

To further explore the relationship between and use, Dr. Yaniv Hamzany of Tel Aviv University's Sackler Faculty of Medicine at Tel Aviv University and the Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery Department at the Rabin Medical Center looked for clues in the saliva of . Since the cell phone is placed close to the when in use, he and his fellow researchers, including departmental colleagues Profs. Raphael Feinmesser, Thomas Shpitzer and Dr. Gideon Bahar and Prof. Rafi Nagler and Dr. Moshe Gavish of the Technion in Haifa, hypothesized that salivary content could reveal whether there was a connection to developing cancer.

Comparing heavy to non-users, they found that the saliva of heavy users showed indications of higher oxidative stress – a process that damages all aspects of a human cell, including DNA—through the development of toxic peroxide and . More importantly, it is considered a major risk factor for cancer.

The findings have been reported in the journal Antioxidants and Redox Signaling.

Putting stress on tissues and glands

For the study, the researchers examined the saliva content of 20 heavy-user patients, defined as speaking on their phones for a minimum of 8 hours a month. Most participants speak much more, Dr. Hamzany says, as much as 30 to 40 hours a month. Their salivary content was compared to that of a control group, which consisted of deaf patients who either do not use a cell phone, or use the device exclusively for and other non-verbal functions.

Compared to the control group, the heavy cell had a significant increase in all salivary oxidative stress measurements studied.

"This suggests that there is considerable oxidative stress on the tissue and glands which are close to the cell phone when in use," he says. The damage caused by oxidative stress is linked to cellular and genetic mutations which cause the development of tumors.

Making the connection

This field of research reflects longstanding concerns about the impact of cell phone use, specifically the effects of radiofrequency non-ionizing electromagnetic radiation on human tissue located close to the ear, say the researchers. And although these results don't uncover a conclusive "cause and effect" relationship between cellular phone use and cancer, they add to the building evidence that cell phone use may be harmful in the long term, and point to a new direction for further research.

One potential avenue of future research would be to analyze a person's saliva prior to exposure to a cell phone, and then again after several intense minutes of exposure. This will allow researchers to see if there is an immediate response, such as a rise in molecules that indicate oxidative stress, Dr. Hamzany says.

Explore further: Glued to your cell phone? Research suggests it may reduce your physical activity and fitness

Related Stories

Glued to your cell phone? Research suggests it may reduce your physical activity and fitness

July 10, 2013
Today's smartphones allow for increased opportunities for activities traditionally defined as sedentary behaviors, such as surfing the internet, emailing and playing video games. However, researchers Jacob Barkley and Andrew ...

Brain makes call on which ear is used for cell phone

May 16, 2013
If you're a left-brain thinker, chances are you use your right hand to hold your cell phone up to your right ear, according to a newly published study from Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit.

Recommended for you

Insufficient sleep, even without extended wakefulness, leads to performance impairments

May 21, 2018
Millions of individuals obtain insufficient sleep on a daily basis, which can lead to impaired performance and other adverse physiological outcomes. To what extent these impairments are caused by the short sleep duration ...

Avoiding the car for travel could significantly lower risk of illness and death

May 21, 2018
People who are more active when commuting to work by walking or cycling could be cutting their relative risk of developing ischaemic heart disease or stroke by 11% and their relative risk of dying from these diseases by 30%, ...

New study shows higher formaldehyde risk in e-cigarettes than previously thought

May 21, 2018
Portland State University researchers who published an article three years ago in the New England Journal of Medicine about the presence of previously undiscovered forms of formaldehyde in e-cigarette vapor revisited their ...

Sleep better, parent better: Study shows link between maternal sleep and permissive parenting

May 21, 2018
Research has shown that consistently not getting enough sleep, or getting poor quality sleep, can put you at risk for a number of health conditions. But how does sleep, or the lack of it, affect how you parent?

Mediterranean diet may blunt air pollution's ill health effects

May 21, 2018
Eating a Mediterranean diet may protect people from some of the harm of long-term exposure to air pollution, and reduce their risk of dying from heart attacks, stroke and other causes of death, according to new research presented ...

Autism is not linked to eating fish in pregnacy

May 21, 2018
A major study examining the fish-eating habits of pregnant women has found that they are not linked to autism or autistic traits in their children.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.