Will 5G Give You Cancer?

It is being hailed as the next big step forward in electronic communications 5G, or fifth generation mobile networks, promise faster download speeds, more devices connected directly and lower latency

This, according to AT&T Chief Technology Officer Andre Fuetsch, will open up a new era in robotics, and allow technological innovations hindered by 4G to thrive However, is this revolutionary technology advancing society at the expense of our health? Like all wireless devices, traditional 3 and 4G networks operate via a radio transmitter and radio receiver, using radio waves to communicate Radio waves carry digital information from transmitter to receiver in the form of an oscillating electromagnetic field The rate of oscillation is called the frequency However, waves can only travel so far based on their frequency

So to boost the signal over greater distances, antenna masts pick up the signal and relay it to another mast nearer the receiver 3G and 4G phones use radio waves, in the form of microwaves, at a frequency between 1 and 4 gigahertz These are relatively long wavelengths and require less boosting, but at the same time carry less information 5G, on the other hand, uses millimeter waves between 25 and 90 gigahertz These carry much more information, but on a shorter wavelength and with lower frequency

This shorter wavelength requires many more towers to boost the signal According to CBS, 5G will require an extra 300,000 towers across the US alone This means that in a 5G town, the human body will be exposed to not just stronger electromagnetic fields, but many more of them as well

According to Dr Joel Moskowitz of the University of California, Berkeley, millimeter waves, or MMWs, pose a significant risk to the public As MMWs are weaker than microwaves, they are predominantly absorbed by the skin, instead of passing through, or rebounding off He says, “Since skin contains capillaries and nerve endings, MMW bio-effects may be transmitted through molecular mechanisms by the skin or through the nervous system” This can lead to a number of health problems in anyone living close to a transmitter They might suffer cataracts, infertility, skin cancers or testicular cancer

Humans are subjected to non-lethal radiation everyday, as radio waves are considered non-ionizing, according to the electromagnetic spectrum This means that the waves don’t carry enough energy to cause damage on a molecular level However, Dr John Bucher co-authored a series of studies into the effects of phone use on behalf of the US National Toxicology Program He found that even non-ionizing radiation can be harmful

As far back as 1996, studies commissioned by the Latvian Academy of Sciences and German Federal Agency for Radiation Protection noted a correlation between living near a phone tower, and an increase in cancers and memory loss And in December 2010, Professor Girish Kumar of the Indian Institute of Technology submitted a report on mobile phone tower radiation He observed that “being exposed to a mobile tower located within 50 metres of your home or workplace is like being in a microwave oven for 24 hours” In November 2018, the National Toxicology Program published the findings of its decade-long study on the effects of radio waves on male rats It found some evidence linking radio wave radiation and brain and adrenal gland tumours

The study also found that rodents exposed to nine hours of radio wave radiation a day, at levels above the average amount a human experiences, had a measurable increase in molecules linked to cancer However the study only extends to the effects of 2G and 3G radiation This has prompted calls for further investigations into the health impact of MMWs and 5G from researchers such as John Bucher Agostino Di Ciaula of the International Society of Doctors for the Environment warns that underrating the long term implications of 5G could lead to a further rise in non-communicable diseases That is not to say that the effects of 5G are entirely unknown

The US government owns and operates non-lethal weapons platforms, called Active Denial Systems, that use MMWs at the same frequency as 5G to debilitate potential attackers Dubbed the “Pain Ray”, the system generates 12 joules of energy per square centimetre Wired magazine reporter Spencer Ackerman compares the effect to “being exposed to a blast furnace, with a sting thrown in for good measure”

Even the World Health Organisation classifies cell phone radio frequency energy as a “possible carcinogen” CTIA, the trade association for the wireless communication industry, refutes that 5G and mobile phones cause health problems In 2018, a spokesperson said, “Following numerous studies conducted over several decades, the FCC, the FDA, the WHO, the American Cancer Society… continue to say that the scientific evidence shows no known health risk to humans due to radio frequency energy emitted by antennas and cell phones” And despite the widespread use of 4G phones for nearly a decade, brain cancers are still remarkably rare In 2015, there were 6 cases per 100,000 in the U

S According to a study by Peter Inskip, Robert Hoover and Susan Devesa, this rate has remained consistent for the last forty years According to a 2014 article in Oxford Neuro-Oncology journal by cancer epidemiologist Dr Quinn Ostrom, “between 1997 and 2008, [there was] no significant trend in incidence rates” of glioma brain cancer A 2014 report from the Dutch Society for Neuro-Oncology found the incidence of glioblastoma, the most lethal form of brain cancer, doubled between 1989 to 2010

However in 2000 and 2007, the World Health Organisation expanded the definition of glioblastoma, which explains the rate increase Nevertheless, Phil Twist, Vice President of Marketing and Communications at Nokia, believes the technological benefits to humanity may outweigh any negative effects of 5G He says, “If you’re trying to do [an] operation with a doctor sitting in a hospital, but the cataract operation is being done by a robotic arm system 30 kilometres away you need very short latency and very high reliability” That isn’t possible with 4G Canadian author William Gibson once said “technologies are morally neutral until we apply them” However, unlike the application of most technologies in the past, 5G is something that will affect everyone, everywhere, twenty four hours a day If the health risks of 5G are not fully calculated, then surely, as Dr

Moskowitz suggests, everyone becomes an unwitting test subject

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