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Cell Phone Towers: Radiation, Health Effects, and Cancer?

Updated on December 7, 2018
Layne Holmes profile image

Layne is interested in energy work and exploring the often unexplainable.

The Dangers of Cell Phone Radiation

Do you live near a cell phone tower? Are you concerned about radiation?
Do you live near a cell phone tower? Are you concerned about radiation? | Source

Can Cell Towers Cause Health Problems?

Do you live near a radio tower, broadcasting tower, or cell phone tower? Let's answer some serious questions about the effects of cell phone towers and chronic exposure to low-level radiation.

"Possibly Carcinogenic"—World Health Organization

I'm sure you've heard of communities coming together to protest the construction of a cell phone tower in their neighborhood, and for good reason. My partner's family lives within 400 meters of a tower, and I've always wondered if there are risks associated with living so close to one. We are going to take a look data that analyzes the effects of living or working near radio, broadcasting, and cell phone towers.

You are exposed to 100 million times more electromagnetic radiation than your grandparents were, and part of the reason is radiation from cell phone towers and microwave antennas.


Symptoms of Cell Phone Tower Sickness

Certain individuals are more sensitive to RF frequencies and electromagnetic pollution. Some of the symptoms listed below have been concluded in scientific studies. Others are reported from primary accounts.

As mentioned, little data has been presented on the health effects of chronic RF exposure, although classification by the World Health Organization still lists RF waves as "possibly carcinogenic." The symptoms and side effects include:

  • Headaches (tension headaches)
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty concentrating ("brain fog")
  • Irritability
  • Skin Issues (burning, rashes, rosacea)
  • Memory loss
  • Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
  • Sleep disturbances (insomnia, restless sleep)
  • Cardiovascular stress (tension)
  • Low sperm count
  • Birth defects
  • Cancer (produced in studies on animals)

It has also been suggested that the likeliness of dementia will increase in the aging wireless population.

This diagram shows the range of radio frequency wave emission.
This diagram shows the range of radio frequency wave emission. | Source

Video: Electromagnetic Frequency Measuring at Dangerous Levels

What Is EMF Sensitivity?

EHS (electro-hypersensitivity) was first recognized in 1932 by the German medical doctor Erwin Schliephake, according to Schliephake noted “microwave sickness” or “radio wave sickness" in his patients who were near radio towers. The scary thing about EMF exposure is that many individuals constantly receive low doses throughout their lifetime until the symptoms present or are finally diagnosed.

Is Cell Tower Radiation Dangerous?

According to, cell phone towers emit high-frequency radio frequency (RF) waves or microwaves to support the use of cell phones and "Wi-Fi, WiMax, Wireless LANs, 802.11 networks, Bluetooth." These base stations are usually 50-200 feet high and emit long waves that can penetrate structures made of brick and metal. Mobile towers emit at 1900 MHz and cell tower microwaves emit above 1900 MHz (and are even more damaging). Living organisms are thought to be affected within 1 square km of the base.

Who Is at Risk?

These towers emit frequencies between radio waves and microwaves and form non-ionizing radiation. At high levels, it has been shown that RF waves can heat up tissue in living organisms. When you make a call, your signal pings the nearest tower. Towers emit radio waves horizontally or parallel to the ground. The US Federal Communication Commission (FCC) is one such organization that monitors safe exposure levels. Those who live within 50-300 meters of the base receive the most radiation.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified RF fields as “possibly carcinogenic to humans.


Data Is Limited but Scientific Studies Reveal Real Health Concerns

Remember the days when smoking inside an airplane was legal? The negative consequences of smoking weren't yet realized until many years later. This is likely the case for cell phone towers. Just like x-ray technology, the earliest pioneers in the field died of radiation sickness. What we don't know can hurt us.

Sometimes cancer takes generations or decades to appear—just like how asbestos exposure and the consequences of chronic smoking appeared much later. Wireless technology wasn't widely used until the 1990s, so studies are few and underdeveloped. Here are the thin arguments that debunk the threat of cell towers (these facts are inconclusive because they do not address chronic low doses):

  • Radio towers do not produce gamma rays, x-rays, and ultraviolet (UV) light (which alter DNA).
  • The long wavelengths make it unlikely that the radiation could affect cells in the body. Exposure levels are low and RF waves don't have enough energy to damage DNA.

RF Radiation Produces Tumors in Animals

In animal studies, RF radiation has actually been shown to promote tumors and cause glioma and acoustic neuroma.

Studies Reveal a Link to Cancer

Several studies that have been conducted over the years and suggest a real risk. One such study was conducted at the Ramazzini Institute (RI) in Italy by scientists at the World Health Organization International Agency for Research on Cancer. 2448 Sprague-Dawley rats were exposed to cell tower radiation for 19 hours per day (1.8 GHz GSM radiofrequency radiation RFR of 5, 25 and 50 V/m) from prenatal life until natural death, as reported:

A $25 million study of much higher levels of cell phone radiofrequency (RF) radiation, from the US National Toxicology Program (NTP), has also reported finding the same unusual cancer called Schwannoma of the heart in male rats treated at the highest dose.

These exposure levels were below the US FCC limits. The Senior Science Advisor to Environmental Health Trust (EHT) ordered: “Governments need to strengthen regulations to protect the public from these harmful non-thermal exposures.”

In the International Journal of Oncology, an epidemiological study similarly revealed data on RF radiation in a public place in Sweden visited daily by many persons. The findings also demonstrated an increased risk of glioma and acoustic neuroma in persons exposed to RF radiation from wireless phones.

How Much Radiation Am I Getting?

You can ask a government agency or private firm to measure the RF field strength near your work, school, or home. You can also watch the video provided above (which demonstrates how to measure EMF radiation). The gentleman is using a Hf35c Rf Analyze (800mhz – 2.5 Ghz) RF analyzer, but this can cost around $300.

According to the "Environmental Protection Agency recommends that you limit your exposure to 0.5 mG to 2.5 mG. When you are three feet away from a microwave, you are exposed to up to 25 mG."

My Experience With RF Radiation

I formerly worked next to an AT&T cell phone tower. My phone signal was always blanketed by it, and there was a wide space around the base of the tower that no one approached. I've always wondered how the radio waves were affecting me.

I do think I'm sensitive to EMFs. I tend to experience headaches, brain fog, and fatigue. Do you suffer from RF sickness?

Video: Good Lecture on Mobile Phone Radiation

© 2018 Layne Holmes


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    • Layne Holmes profile imageAUTHOR

      Layne Holmes 

      6 months ago from Bend, Oregon

      Parrster I totally hear you. It's hard enough finding valid data on this topic. I really feel for people who are ostracized for their sensitivities (scary thing is we are all affected by radiation). I have worked in fields of high exposure (including radiation in the medical field). I'm all for pushing research on safety. Thanks for commenting.

    • parrster profile image

      Richard Parr 

      6 months ago from Australia

      Being one of those unfortunates who are sensitive to EMF, I know the frustration of living in a modern world awash with it. Like tobacco manufacturers that fought tooth and nail in denial of the harmfulness of their product, so too the Telco's will not willingly accept any accusation against theirs. There's just too much money involved, and peoples health generally plays second fiddle. Sadly many elevate their own convenience above others wellbeing.

    • Layne Holmes profile imageAUTHOR

      Layne Holmes 

      6 months ago from Bend, Oregon

      Thanks Jennifer. I'm glad you're open to it. I hope others become more aware or at least consider the possibility and consequences of our addiction to technology.

    • NaturallyInspired profile image

      Jennifer Christine 

      6 months ago

      Great article. I totally agree with all of it. This is probably the reason why everyone is always so tired and stressed. Radiation is a silent killer and we are all getting sicker. People need to educate themselves and be aware of this issue. Thanks for sharing!


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