Evaluating the best scientific evidence, there are no good explanations for how 5G or wifi could cause cancer.
You may have heard the myth that 5G networks emit radiation that can damage our DNA and cause cancer. But when it comes to radiation, the amount of energy released is what matters.
High energy radiation (often called ionising radiation), such as UV rays from the sun, releases enough energy to damage DNA. But both 4G and 5G networks transmit radio frequency radiation (radio waves), which is very weak (non-ionising). This means that it does not have enough energy to damage DNA, so there is no direct way it can cause cancer.
Mobile phones, phone masts and wifi also rely on the same non-ionising radiation. Radio waves produced by wifi are even weaker than those produced by mobile phones, and are well within the international guidelines that the UK adheres to.
Several large-scale studies in people have been conducted over the years and have found no clear evidence that mobile phones or wifi cause cancer. Mobile phone use has risen dramatically over the last few decades, with billions of people now using them around the world, and yet we’re not seeing such a significant rise in the rates of conditions such as brain, thyroid or salivary cancers.
As 5G, 4G, mobile phones and wifi are still relatively new technologies, research is ongoing. We can’t completely rule out long-term effects and we will continue to monitor the evidence.
But, overall, there’s no good evidence of a link with cancer.
But isn’t this radiation classified as ‘possibly carcinogenic’?
Yes, it’s true that the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified non-ionising radio frequency radiation (such as that used by mobile phones) as “possibly carcinogenic” (Group 2B).
While this may sound scary, it’s also how the IARC classifies aloe vera and bracken fern. If something is in Group 2B, it means there isn’t enough evidence in humans to be sure it’s a cause of cancer. There may be some limited evidence in animals or cells in labs, but these models cannot mimic the human body.
Research is ongoing, and we’ll keep monitoring it. But for now, the evidence suggests using mobile phones does not increase the risk of cancer.