For decades, fear-mongers have been telling us that we shouldn’t use cellphones too much because they can give us cancer, and now the same claims are being made about the smartwatch. As these wearables become more popular, you’re going to hear about the health concerns a heck of a lot more, but you shouldn’t let them worry you.
I am, of course, referring to the recent piece from Nick Bilton of The New York Times, which was originally titled “Could wearable computers be as harmful as cigarettes?” before its headline was changed to the less controversial, “The health concerns in wearable tech.”
The article warns us that just like cellphones, there’s a chance that smartwatches could cause cancer in humans — particularly those with 3G and 4G data connectivity, like the Samsung Gear S.
It also suggests that because smartwatches are worn on the body all day, every day, they could be even more dangerous.
But not using a smartwatch because it might give you cancer is almost as crazy as not leaving the house because you might be abducted by aliens. Sure, it might happen, but the chances are incredibly slim.
Scientists have long been researching the effects of cellphones on our body, and the current conclusion is that while they could be carcinogenic to humans, there’s nowhere near enough evidence to prove it.
Bilton quotes a 2011 study from the International Agency for Research on Cancer, which, after surveying all of the available literature and research, announced that cellphones are “possible carcinogenic to humans.”
It also states, as noted by The Verge, that “chance, bias, or confounding could not be ruled out with reasonable confidence.” You won’t find this particular quote in the NYT piece, however.
So, not only did the IARC fail to find a definitive link between cellphones and cancer, but it also suggests that there could be flaws in the research that tells us there could be one.
Even the National Cancer Institute says that “there is no evidence from studies of cells, animals, or humans that radiofrequency energy can cause cancer,” while the World Health Organization says “no adverse health effects have been established as being caused by mobile phone use.”
While there is a theoretical link, then, it’s one that’s not worth worrying about. The vast majority of us are doing other things each and every day that are more harmful to our health — smoking, drinking, eating junk foods — that this should probably be the least of our worries.
Don’t let it put you off pre-ordering an Apple Watch, then.