Is there any evidence for 5G health risks?

5G health risksCC: StevePB at Pixabay

In the last decade, smartphones have come a long way. We’ve leaped from taking grainy photos with our cameras, to holding 4K video-streaming powerhouses in our hands. The latest feature on many of our horizons is 5G.

The new 5G technology is now bordering on being infamous rather than eagerly anticipated. It’s courting controversy both in terms of who controls it (Huawei raised a few eyebrows in the UK) and the physical risks associated with it. The latest 5G health risks are sparking worries among those who feel we’re taking technology too far.

What are 5G health risks?

5G technology is super-fast and eclipses anything that 4G could deliver. It relies on masts that are close to the ground and uses higher frequency waves. The signals are carried by radio waves, as with previous technologies.

Most of the proposed 5G health risks involve cancer. Although the radio waves it uses fall into the non-ionizing radiation end of the electromagnetic spectrum, some are comparing it to standing by your microwave while it runs, with the door open. Others are also stating that it is mutagenic, which suggests that it could alter your DNA.

Is there any evidence that 5G health risks exist?

Admittedly, the World Health Organization does nod toward some 5G health risks. It states that they are possibly carcinogenic. This means that the current evidence falls short of confirming that 5G could cause cancer in humans.

The main study that the WHO’s classification hinges on involves rats. In the study, rats were exposed to mobile phone radiation for two years. The two-year period began in vitro, so the exposure took place when they were developing as rat fetuses. At the end of the study, there was evidence suggesting that this type of exposure increased the rats’ risk of developing heart cancer.

In studies that looked at older rats without in vitro exposure, no such risks existed. However, the WHO can’t just ignore the study, and so it acknowledges the possibility of 5G health risks.

It’s worth understanding that there are whole worlds of difference between in vitro rodent exposure and using a phone as an adult. Equally, it’s wise to acknowledge that the studies exist, but not to place so much value on the results reflecting the same response in humans.

There are other everyday substances with far higher risks

If we’re going to take the WHO’s classification seriously, we need to start looking at other everyday products and their health risks too. Eating a pickled vegetable or using talc is more likely to cause cancer than a 5G phone. And, gorging on red meat, processed meats, and drinking alcohol have established links with cancer.

If 5G health risks concern you, stick to using 4G instead. At present, there are no established links that are significant enough to warrant banning this future-focused technology.


About the Author

Laura McKeever
Laura has been a freelance medical writer for eight years. With a BSc in Medical Sciences and an MSc in Physician Assistant Studies, she complements her passion for medical news with real-life experiences. Laura’s most significant experience included writing for international pharmaceutical brands, including GSK.