A large study involving over 200,000 participants found a significant link between mobile phone use and a higher risk of developing hypertension, particularly among frequent users. High blood pressure is a major preventable factor in cardiovascular diseases and premature death worldwide, affecting both men and women. With the widespread use of mobile phones, which had approximately 8.2 billion subscriptions globally in 2020, concerns arise regarding the safety of making or receiving calls, particularly for heavy users.
Several studies indicate that prolonged exposure to radio-frequency electromagnetic fields from mobile phones may have negative effects on health. This includes increased inflammation, oxidative stress, and DNA damage, all of which are potential factors in the onset of hypertension. However, current findings suggest that as long as the weekly call time remains below 30 minutes, there may not be a significant impact on the risk of developing high blood pressure.
The Biobank in the UK utilized data from 212,046 participants aged 37 to 73 years who had not developed hypertension before. To collect information about mobile phone usage, participants completed a touchscreen questionnaire at the beginning, reporting details of use such as hours every week and years of use, and if they used a hands-free device or speakerphone. Individuals who used their mobile phones for calls at least one time a week were categorized as mobile phone users.
Through a meticulous analysis conducted over a follow-up span that averaged 12 years, it was observed that out of the total participants, 7% eventually developed hypertension. Notably, a correlation was found between the utilization of mobile phones and an elevated chance of hypertension. Additionally, individuals who spent at least 30 minutes and higher on a weekly basis on phone calls showed a 12% greater probability of developing new-onset high blood pressure compared to individuals who had usage time of 30 minutes or less. Importantly, these findings were the same for both women and men.
The researchers investigated how the amount of time spent on mobile phones and genetic risk of acquiring hypertension are related. Data from the UK Biobank was used to access the participants’ genetic risk. The results showed that those with a greater genetic risk and who had usage at least 30 minutes a week talking on a mobile phone were 33% more likely to develop high blood pressure than those with a low genetic risk and had spent less time on the phone. This association was especially strong for making or receiving calls and was more pronounced in those who used their phones for longer periods of time. These findings highlight the potential impact of mobile phone use on hypertension risk in the general population.
Additional studies are needed to fully evaluate the findings and mechanisms discussed. However, if these results are validated, there is evidence to suggest that limiting mobile phone usage for calls could have a significant impact on preventing hypertension in the broader population. While further research is needed to confirm these results, it is advisable to limit mobile phone usage to protect heart health. Use the speaker phone when you can and hold it a distance away from your body.
To view the original scientific study click below:
Mobile phone calls, genetic susceptibility, and new-onset hypertension: results from 212 046 UK Biobank participants