Fact Check

Cell Phones in Bras Cause Breast Cancer?

Rumor: A woman contracted breast cancer from carrying a cell phone in her bra.

Published May 29, 2013


Claim:   A woman contracted breast cancer from carrying a cell phone in her bra.


Example:   [Collected via e-mail, May 2013]

Can you get breast cancer by keeping your cell phone in your bra? There is a video of a news footage on a woman who thinks she
got breast cancer from keeping her cell phone in her bra.


Origins:   The video linked above was a news report from York, Pennsylvania, television station WGAL about Tiffany Franz, a Strasburg resident who was diagnosed with breast cancer when she was just 21 years old.

Tiffany eventually underwent a mastectomy to remove her left breast, and given her youth, her lack of genetic predispositions or risk

factors for breast cancer, and the location of her tumors (roughly the area in which her cell phone was placed in contact with her breast), Tiffany and her family (and some doctors) have suggested that her carrying a cell phone in her bra, where it was pressed against the bare skin of her chest for six years, was the cause of her developing breast cancer at such an early age.

However, although some women who typically tote cell phones in their bras have developed breast cancer, there is as yet no hard evidence proving or disproving the notion that the connection between the two is anything more than coincidence. Some doctors recommend that women not carry cell phones in brassieres, and cell phone manuals usually advise users to carry their phones some minimum distance (a half-inch or so) away from their bodies and avoid direct contact with the skin, but those are "better safe than sorry" precautionary measures and not warnings based on empirical evidence demonstrating a connection between cell phones and cancer:

Is there a link between breast cancer and cell phones? Some doctors say they're seeing evidence of breast cancer that could be connected to where some women keep their mobile phone — in their bras.

Breast surgeon Lisa Bailey said phone-related breast cancer may be common. Saying it may be the heat of the battery of the radio frequency of the radiation that makes keeping a phone directly on the skin risky.

"These young breasts in the early evolution are more sensitive to changes that might lead to cancer," Bailey said.

Other breast cancer specialist are now speaking out as well. Dr. John West says men who keep their phones in their shirt pockets are also at risk.

The wireless industry, meanwhile, denies any problem, citing a lack of scientific evidence that cellphones cause breast cancer.

Those concerned doctors though say it's because not enough studies have been completed.

"There's no evidence, but that's because we haven't studied it," Bailey said.

"Until further data either supports it or disproves it, I would keep cell phones away from the body, in particular the breasts," adds Dr. June Chen, a Breast Cancer Radiologist.

In the meantime, experts convinced of the link say better safe than sorry.

"It's as simple as that and it might save a life it might avoid a mastectomy, chemotherapy, it's easy enough to do, why take a chance?" West said. "If there is a risk and we don't find out about it for five or ten years from now, we're going to see a whole cluster of young people with breast cancer."

In September 2015, the UK press reported on a British woman, 51-year-old Wendy Holt, who similarly claimed that her breast cancer was the result of her carrying a cell phone in her bra for many years:

A mother-of one believes keeping her mobile phone in her bra every day for a decade gave her terminal breast cancer.

Wendy Holt, 51, from Bracknell, Berkshire, fell into a habit of keeping her phone in her bra when she went out so it would be within easy reach.

However she now believes radiation from her phone was to blame for her breast cancer diagnosis in 2012, as she had no family history of the disease.

Despite no longer storing her phone in this way — and getting the all clear of cancer — the disease returned in her lungs and lymph nodes earlier this year.

Her terminal diagnosis means it's unlikely she will reach her 53rd birthday.

Once again, however, medical experts asserted it was unlikely that the referenced case of breast cancer was caused by cell phones:

Leading oncologist Professor Karol Sikora, of Cancer Partners UK, said it was 'unlikely' that mobile phone use — or the way she had stored it — had triggered Ms Holt's cancer.

He said: 'There have been thousands of studies into the safety of mobile phones but no link has been established with breast cancer — even in these unusual circumstances.

'There have been some papers about a certain type of brain tumour, called gliomas, but in this case, it is intrinsically unlikely that contact with the phone was to blame for this lady's cancer.

'She would be exposed to a minor, trivial dose of electromagnetic radiation when the phone went off, but that would be it.'

And Carolyn Rogers, Clinical Nurse Specialist at Breast Cancer Care said:

'It's not possible to isolate any one factor as a cause of breast cancer, however, at present there is no evidence available to suggest that radio frequency waves from mobile phones can cause breast cancer.

'The biggest risk factors for developing breast cancer are being female and getting older — 80 per cent diagnosed are over the age of 50.

'These are factors we cannot control. For some, having a significant family history can increase your risk, however fewer than 10 per cent of all breast cancers are caused by inheriting a faulty breast cancer gene.'

Additional information:

    Update: Cell Phone and Breast Cancer Update: Cell Phone and Breast Cancer   (BeAware Foundation)

Last updated:   16 September 2015


    WTVR-TV [Richmond, VA].   "Doctors: Women Who Store Phone in Bras at Risk for Breast Cancer."

    19 November 2012.

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.

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