Does Wi-Fi Cause Cancer?

Posted by LiLeah on

Wi-Fi is a wireless technology. It’s used to connect laptops, smartphones, and other electronic devices to the Internet. In fact, you’re likely reading this article on a device that’s currently connected to Wi-Fi.

Wi-Fi sends data via electromagnetic radiation, a type of energy. The radiation creates areas called electromagnetic fields (EMFs).

There’s concern that the radiation from Wi-Fi causes health issues like cancer. But there are currently no known health risks in humans.

Let’s explore what the science says about Wi-Fi and cancer thus far.

Currently, there’s no definite answer to this question. That’s because there’s no solid evidence suggesting that Wi-Fi, or EMFs in general, directly causes cancer.

In 2011, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) stated that EMFs are “possibly carcinogenic to humans.” The label was established by 30 scientists who evaluated studies on EMFs and cancer.

Studies involving EMFs and cancer are conflicting. For example, according to a 2017 research review, EMFs from wireless devices increase the risk of glioma, a type of brain tumor. But a 2018 study states that there’s no clear association between EMFs and brain tumors.

Animal studies

Additionally, most studies that have examined the link between Wi-Fi and cancer involve animals. Those results have also been inconclusive.

Oxidative stress is known to contribute to the development of cancer. In a 2015 animal study, long-term exposure to Wi-Fi induced oxidative stress in the uteruses of rats.

Additionally, one 2018 animal studyTrusted Source also found that Wi-Fi reduces the activity of antioxidant enzymes, which combat oxidative stress.

The mechanisms behind these effects are unclear. Additionally, these findings don’t explicitly confirm that Wi-Fi causes cancer in humans. More research is needed to determine if radiation from Wi-Fi can lead to cancer.

It’s unknown if Wi-Fi poses other health risks. Again, most of the existing studies involve animals, and the results are inconclusive.

Here’s what the science says so far:

Male infertility

According to a 2014 animal studyTrusted Source, long-term exposure to Wi-Fi radiation reduces the reproductive function of male rats. A 2016 animal study found that radiation emitted from Wi-Fi causes DNA damage in the testes of rats.

In a 2015 studyTrusted Source, researchers examined the sperm motility of more than 1,000 men. The men answered questions about their Wi-Fi and cell phone use. Researchers determined that men who used wireless internet had reduced sperm motility, compared with men who used wired internet.

But the researchers didn’t state the possible mechanisms behind these results. They also noted that the questionnaire didn’t ask if participants were smokers. Smoking may affect sperm motility.

Cognitive function

A 2017 animal studyTrusted Source determined that Wi-Fi radiation impairs recognition in rats. According to a different 2017 animal studyTrusted Source, the radiation emitted from Wi-Fi may also contribute to neurodegenerative disease and brain function in rats.

But again, these results don’t imply the same effects in humans. More research is necessary.

Heart health

In a 2015 animal study, exposure to Wi-Fi altered the heart rhythm and blood pressure in rabbits. According to the researchers, this suggests that Wi-Fi affects the heart. But the mechanisms are unclear, and more human studies are needed.

As concerns over Wi-Fi increase, there’ve been several myths about its effects on health.

According to these claims, Wi-Fi causes conditions like:

There’s no hard evidence that Wi-Fi is linked to these conditions.

5G and coronavirus

5G, or fifth generation, is another type of wireless technology. It’s a mobile network that was first available in 2019.

Since its release, there’ve been rumors about 5G and its health risks. But when the COVID-19 pandemic began in 2020, the myths began to involve coronavirus.

This included unproven rumors like:

  • 5G directly spreads SARS CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19
  • 5G impairs your immune system, increasing your risk of contracting SARS CoV-2
  • 5G is a cover for the COVID-19 pandemic
  • COVID-19 vaccines contain 5G microchips
  • COVID-19 first appeared in Wuhan, China, because it was the first city to use 5G

These myths are just that — myths. Viruses spread from person to person through respiratory droplets. They aren’t spread via wireless technology. Also, there’s no proof that 5G and EMFs increase your susceptibility to viral infections.

In 1996, WHO established the International EMF ProjectTrusted Source. The EMF Project is working on a health risk assessment of EMFs.

This is separate from the 2011 assessment by the IARC, which labeled EMFs as “possibly carcinogenic.” The IARC is also part of WHO.

There’s been controversy surrounding the EMF Project. In a 2017 research reviewTrusted Source, oncologist Dr. Lennart Hardell pointed out that five of the six EMF’s core group members have been involved with the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP).

In the review, Hardell says this is a conflict of interest. He believes that it will interfere with the members’ ability to create a critical scientific assessment.

Take away

Wi-Fi uses electromagnetic radiation to connect electronic devices. Some people believe that it can contribute to the development of cancer. But there’s no solid evidence that Wi-Fi causes health risks in humans.

Most of the available research involves animals. Even then, the results have been inconclusive. More research is necessary to determine if Wi-Fi and cancer are directly linked.


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