Intended for healthcare professionals


The health hazards of mobile phones

BMJ 2000; 320 doi: (Published 13 May 2000) Cite this as: BMJ 2000;320:1288

The only established risk is of using one while driving

  1. Michael Maier, senior lecturer (,
  2. Colin Blakemore, professor (,
  3. Mika Koivisto, researcher (
  1. Division of Neuroscience and Psychological Medicine, Imperial College School of Medicine, London W6 8RP
  2. Laboratory of Physiology, University of Oxford, Oxford OX1 3PT
  3. Centre for Cognitive Neuroscience, University of Turku, 20014 Turku, Finland

    Despite repeated horror stories about mobile phones in the media, nearly half of the British public now owns one. Some 500 million people worldwide use mobile phones. Clearly, they have decided that the benefits outweigh any risks to their health. The benefits to the Exchequer in the United Kingdom are also substantial—£22bn ($13.75bn)from the recent round of bids for new licences. In this context, the publication of the Report of the Independent Expert Group on Mobile Phones, a group organised by the Department of Health, could have political implications.

    Mobile phones are low power radio devices that transmit and receive radio frequency radiation (at frequencies in the microwave range of 900-1800 MHz) through an antenna used close to the user's head. Digital systems have recently replaced analogue. There is concern that microwaves might induce or promote cancer, and the symptoms associated with their use include sleep disturbance, memory problems, headaches, nausea, and dizziness.1 Changes in the permeability of the blood-brain barrier, electroencephalographic activity, and blood pressure have also been reported.2 The validity of many of these findings is uncertain, as are the mechanisms for such actions. …

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