What Health Problems Can Cell Phones Cause?


It has been frequently argued that cell phones could be a cancer risk due to the fact that they emit radio waves. The results of multiple studies have led to the conclusion that cell phone use is “possibly carcinogenic to humans,” but overall, evidence is still limited and inconclusive.

In addition to the potential physical risks, it has been argued that smartphones pose emotional, social and psychological risks as well. High teenage suicide and suicide risk in general has been linked to smartphone prevalence: a study found that kids who spent three hours or more a day on smartphones or other electronic devices were 34 percent more likely to suffer at least one suicide-related outcome.

In light of this conversation, we asked physicians, “Do smartphones cause health problems?”

Out of the 2,148 respondents from 50 countries, 84 percent responded yes:

“According to last night’s news, ophthalmologists are seeing increased rates of myopia in kids who use cell phones for several hours per day. Seven hours was the number quoted! What a disaster!!!! Instead of playing outside and being exposed to daylight kids are now cocooned inside using their smart phones!”  –  Internal Medicine 

“Antisocial behavior is one result of smartphone use.” – ORL/ENT

“Increase in thumb injuries, like tenosynovitis (as I type here with my thumbs using a smartphone).”  – General Surgery

“Inattention, poor eye contact, neck and thumb strain, myopia, fear of missed calls, anxiety, insomnia…”  – Pediatrics

“Screen time causes a decreased blink rate. This causes dry eye and irritation. This causes blepharitis. This causes a poor lipid layer in the tear film. This causes a low tear break up time. This causes more dry-eye. It gets into a cycle that causes blurred vision and discomfort.”  – Ophthalmology 

“Huge increase in anxiety and depression in adolescents.”  – General Practice

“Yes, visual problems, headache, hearing problems and theoretical increased risk of cancer with smartphones.”  – Pediatrics

“There is more and more evidence that exposure to electromagnetic field (EMF) radiation is related to increased health issues of many types. This is not just cell phone related but also Wi-Fi exposure, electric blankets, living by high tension power lines, living in ‘smart’ homes, wearing ‘Fit bits’ etc. Cell phones in men’s trouser pockets can lower sperm counts. I advise infertile couples to keep cell phones off their bodies. Once the ladies are pregnant, I advise them to keep the cell phones away from the pregnant abdomen.”  – Gynecology

“One of the biggest complications of this technological age is the large number of emotional pathologies that derive from their addiction, where the most vulnerable are people with personality disorders or very accentuated personality traits, since they use or are used very easily through these means.”  – Psychiatry

“Certainly, in excess, it can lead to many health disorders. Especially emotional due to lack of interaction or social interaction, or anxiety about the habit of online speed via mobile, since no one wants to spend time waiting for something.”  – Neurology

“I am an ophthalmologist and it has already been proven that prolonged use of these devices leads to short-term visual problems such as nearsightedness and long-term damage caused by blue light in the retina.” – Ophthalmology

The poll was fielded in December of 2017. 2148 physicians responded to the poll. The margin of error for the global poll was ±2%. More information about SERMO polling methodology can be found here.

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