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CANSA Do Cell Phones Cause Cancer?


Because cell phones are held near the head when in use, the main concern has been whether they might cause or contribute to tumours in this area, including:

  • Malignant (cancerous) brain tumours such as gliomas
  • Non-cancerous tumours of the brain such as meningiomas
  • Non-cancerous tumours of the nerve connecting the brain to the ear (acoustic neuromas)
  • Non-cancerous tumours of the salivary glands

CANSA Research Department Responds:


The jury is out at this stage – research is ongoing and must be closely monitored.


We take the issue of environmental links to cancer very seriously and we welcome new research into this important topic. Researchers over the years have not been able to find conclusive evidence linking cell phones to cancer. At this stage, there is no cause for alarm for South Africans using cell phones. We encourage continued research on this topic and we will continue to monitor the situation.

In order to prove that the use of cell phones can cause cancer, many thousands of cell phone users would need to be studied over many years. Such studies are now in progress in many countries and it is expected that definitive results will be forthcoming in the near future.

However, just because there is no definite evidence at this stage, does not mean that there is no potential danger.

CANSA’s Advice in the Interim:

We acknowledge the importance of cellphones in daily life, especially in emergencies and recommend the following precautions:

  • Limit the number and duration of calls
  • Use text messages when possible
  • Switch sides of the head when the call is long
  • Use hands-free kits or speakerphone mode to keep the phone at a distance from the head
  • Instruct children and teenagers to limit calls to emergencies only as they are more vulnerable to electromagnetic radiation

Further Reading & Information:

Queries CANSA

For more information please contact CANSA’s Helpdesk on 0800 22 66 22 or email us at

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