Apple AirPods are a wireless Bluetooth earbud first released in 2016. A rumor has been circulating over the past several years that using AirPods can lead to the development of brain cancer.
The rumor is based on the idea that Bluetooth electromagnetic radiation in your ear canal could cause cellular damage and tumors. However, at this time, there’s no evidence suggesting that the amount of radiation emitted by AirPods is enough to damage your health.
The myth that wireless headphones can cause cancer gained traction in 2015.
At that time, more than 200 scientists from around the world wrote an appeal to the World Health Organization and United Nations to impose stricter international guidelines for electromagnetic radiation.
In the appeal, the scientists mention that numerous studies have found that radiation well below the current guidelines has the potential to have damaging effects on human health.
The idea that AirPods might cause cancer gained popularity in 2019 after an article on Medium alerted people of the 2015 appeal. However, the 2015 appeal was warning against all wireless devices, not specifically AirPods.
The strength of radiation released by Bluetooth headsets is significantly lower than other forms of radiation such as cellphones, X-rays, or ultraviolet light.
Wireless devices produce non-ionizing radiation, meaning that radiation is too weak to remove electrons from atoms. The amount of radiation released by Bluetooth devices is relatively low compared to cellphones.
At this time, there’s no evidence that Apple AirPods or other Bluetooth devices cause cancer. The amount of radiation produced by these devices is relatively low compared to the amount of radiation released from the cellphones to which they’re usually paired.
Most wireless headphones use the same Bluetooth technology as Apple AirPods to transmit sound from your device to your ear. Even though Bluetooth emits less radiation than cellphones, some health experts have expressed concern about the long-term use of Bluetooth earbuds because of their proximity to your brain.
A branch of the World Health Organization called the International Agency for Research on Cancer has listed electromagnetic radiation released by cellphones and Bluetooth devices as potentially cancer-causing.
More research needs to come out to examine if the levels of radiation are strong enough to damage human health.
Cellphones emit a type of electromagnetic radiation known as radio waves.
In 1999, the National Toxicology Program conducted a 2-year study examining the effect of this radiation on more than 3,000 rats. The researchers found that the type of radiation found in cellphones was linked to an increased number of brain tumors in male rats. However, the study used older 2G and 3G technology.
Human studies looking at cellphone radiation on human health are limited. Because scientists can’t ethically expose humans to radiation, they need to draw conclusions based on animal research or trends in large populations of people.
Brain cancer rates in the United States have
Most animal studies also haven’t found a link between cellphone habits and health issues.
At this time, there’s no evidence that using Apple AirPods or other wireless headphones increases your risk of brain cancer.
Bluetooth earbuds produce less radiation than cellphones. However, because of their proximity to your brain, some health experts warn that more research is needed to examine their long-term effects.
If you want to be safe, you may want to minimize your use of Bluetooth earbuds and avoid holding your cellphone to your ear for extended periods.
Using the speakerphone function on your phone for calls and the speaker for music can help you minimize your electromagnetic exposure.