Do Wireless Headphones Cause Cancer?

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A recent report on Medium was posted discussing the potentials dangers posed by popular wireless headphones like AirPods and how they could possibly cause cancer through radiation. The piece gained a considerable amount of traction on the internet, causing an uproar into just how safe these devices are.

In his piece, writer Markham Heid spoke with Jerry Phillips, a professor of biochemistry at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, who said, “My concern for AirPods is that their placement in the ear canal exposes tissues in the head to relatively high levels of radio frequency radiation.” However, it is important to note that Philip’s did not designate this risk solely to Airpods, but rather all sort of “technologies that operate at radio frequencies,” including cell phones, cordless phones, cell towers, Wi-Fi, etc.

Philips is among nearly 250 scientists from across the world who signed a 2015 petition to the UNited Nations and World Health Organization seeking better understanding and protection from our ever-increasing exposure to “nonionizing electromagnetic fields (EMF).” According to this petition, EMFs are shields of invisible energy known as radiation, and exposure to such energy has a host of potential side effects including “increased cancer risk, cellular stress, increase in harmful free radicals, genetic damages, structural and functional changes of the reproductive system, learning and memory deficits, neurological disorders, and negative impacts on general well-being in humans.”

Photo by Plush Design Studio on Unsplash

These EMFs are classified into two groups: non-ionizing and ionizing. Non-ionizing is essentially low-level radiation that is generally considered to be harmless to humans. Ionizing, on the other hand, has a much higher potential to cause harm to humans, as it can damage our cellular structure and DNA. However, the radiation released by wireless devices falls under the non-ionizing umbrella.

While there is still much research to be done on the safety of wireless devices and the radiation they emit, it is generally considered safe to use them. Apple has even responded to such allegations, saying that AirPods abide by all safety standards, ensuring that there is no risk for AirPod wearers to ever develop cancer or experience other dangerous side effects. In fact, wireless devices such as AirPods give off even less radiation than mobile devices, and we have yet to see a major increase in cancer to suggest that cell phones are causing it.

So should you be throwing out your wireless headphones? The decision is up to you. Living in such a digital world, we will never be able to fully avoid the radiation that is present all around us.

Avid writer and reader with a curious mind. I'm always looking to get the most out of life! Follow me on Twitter @whatsaschoon

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