By Dr. Maria Simbra


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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Wireless headphones and earbuds are becoming more popular, but could using them be putting you at a greater risk for cancer?

Some people like wireless headphones for the convenience and freedom from cords.

But is radiation a worry?

Photo Credit: KDKA

Some passers by in Market Square had this to say:

“At times, yes. Just that it may cause cancer or lead towards that.”

“I think my biggest worry is the level of the sound.”

“I think the technology has evolved a lot. And I think there have been a lot of studies that have shown that technology is safe, so.”

“You can get it from anywhere just by being around people with a phone.”

A biochemist from the University of Colorado, Jerry Phillips, has raised the alarm. In an article on the web site Medium, he says Bluetooth headphones in the ear canal exposes tissues in the head to high levels of radio frequency radiation.

He says hundreds of researchers from around the world have petitioned the world health organization about the issue.

“In general, the closer you are to a structure, the more radiation,” says Allegheny Health Network radiation oncologist Dr. Mark Trombetta.

In the same article, a bioengineer from the University of Pennsylvania, Kenneth Foster, points out the WHO and other public health organizations have analyzed the literature on Bluetooth and haven’t found any clear evidence for health hazards at exposure levels below international limits.

“The Bluetooth is all around us. from pacemakers to non-medical applications,” Dr. Trombetta points out. “Our televisions rely on that.”

Bluetooth is very low energy. It is not ionizing radiation, the type that causes damage.

“So if we could eliminate all risk from the world, we certainly wouldn’t start with these devices because they would be one of the lowest risk things,” Dr. Trombetta adds.

In terms of risk, think about it this way: you’re more likely to be harmed by wireless headphones if you walk out in front of a car you didn’t hear coming, than you are by a tumor decades from now that may or may not happen and that may or may not be related to Bluetooth.

Dr. Maria Simbra

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