Frequent cell phone use may be linked to cancer, suggests a study from researchers at Tel Aviv University, led by Dr. Yaniv Hamzany.

The study paper poses the question, Is human saliva an indicator of the adverse health effects of using mobile phones? The authors decided to turn to saliva to test a hypothesis that the salivary gland would give clues to cell phone risks – the gland sits in close proximity to a cell phone when in use.

The researchers examined 20 participants who had been using a mobile phone for an average of 12.5 years and for between 8 and 100 hours a month. The participants’ saliva was then compared with that of a control group – deaf patients who did not use a cell phone, or who only used a phone to text.

Salivary characteristics measured by the researchers included:

  • Secretion
  • Oxidative damage indices
  • Flow rate
  • Composition.

Results showed that the cell phone users had higher oxidative stress in their saliva. This is a mechanism that damages cells by developing toxic peroxide and free radicals. Oxidative stress is also a risk factor for cancer.

“This suggests that there is considerable oxidative stress on the tissue and glands which are close to the cell phone in use,” says Dr. Yaniv Hamzany – damage that could cause tumors to develop.

This study only involved 20 participants and cannot show a clear cause-and-effect relationship between using a cell phone and cancer, but it does contribute to evidence that using cell phones may cause harm.

The researchers say:

“Increasing use of mobile phones creates growing concerns regarding harmful effects of radiofrequency nonionizing electromagnetic radiation on human tissues located close to the ear, where phones are commonly held for long periods of time.”

Dr. Yaniv Hamzany notes that future research may involve analyzing a subject’s saliva before and after using a cell phone – to see if there is an immediate measurable effect.

A charity in the UK has recently announced a partnership with a software agency to develop a mobile game through which the general public can analyze cancer data while playing. See our news story: Cell phone game joins fight against cancer. So, we can fight cancer with our mobile phones, as long as – this most recent research may be suggesting – we do not regularly hold the phones to our ears for long periods.