No, 5G won’t give you brain cancer

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Stingrays mimic cell towers, and are used by both criminals and police.
Don’t believe the bad science telling you cell towers give you cancer.
Photo: Miguel Á. Padriñán/Pexels CC

People warning of horrible health effects of 5G wireless networks aren’t hard to find. But it turns out their claims are based on a mistake made by a scientist decades ago.

Still, this claim lives on — and is even being spread by Russian trolls.

One simple mistake…

Back in 2000, physicist Bill P. Curry did a study on the effects of Wi-Fi for a Florida public school district. After some research, he warned educators that high-frequency electromagnetic waves would give brain cancer to those exposed to them, according to The New York Times.

Curry’s report included a chart that must have scared the dickens out of them. It showed that the higher the frequency of the radio waves, the more they are absorbed by brain tissue.

Internal tissues absorb electromagnetic waves.
This chart leaves out the protective nature of human skin.
Photo: New York Times

Since that time, others have pointed to this research as reason to be concerned about cellphones, 3G, 4G and now 5G. Brain cancer almost always comes up in these warnings.

But Curry’s doctorates were in physics and electrical engineering, not in biology or medicine. As a result, he misinterpreted the chart shown above.

It accurately portrays the effects of electromagnetic waves on internal body tissues, but Curry didn’t know that one of the purposes of our skin is to protect us from this type of radiation.

“It doesn’t penetrate,” Christopher Collins, a professor of radiology at New York University, told the Times. And he should know. He studies the effects of radio waves on living creatures.

Electromagnetic radiation is naturally all around us

Humans didn’t invent electromagnetic radiation. It’s emitted by the sun, by fire — even by fireflies. Protecting internal organs from radiation is something fish needed to develop 375 million years ago in order to move onto the land. It’s one reason why we have skin.

The frequency increases in 5G are often cited as a cause for concern. Wi-Fi uses 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz, while the replacement for 4G can go up to 86 GHz, a substantial jump. But nervousness about this doesn’t take into account that the entire radio portion of the EM spectrum is much, much lower frequency than visible light, which goes between 430 THz and 770 THz. So as long as your skin is opaque to light, you’re safe from the cell tower down the street.

But there are people and organizations who continue to warn of the nonexistent dangers of 5G. Some of them are just individuals who don’t trust big business, the government or science.

But these incorrect warnings are also being spread by Russian operatives, according to the Times. Perhaps the goal is to slow the implementation of 5G networks in the United States, since they are expected to be a significant underpinning of the economy in the future.