Can Headphones Cause Cancer?

Headphones have been used by people for decades now. Do headphones cause cancer? Should you avoid them? Read on to find out more.

Headphones around the neck

You were browsing as usual and come upon something that says headphones emit radiation. If you checked that out, you may have found that headphones do emit radiation. The reasonable question is: Can headphones cause cancer? Let me put your worries at rest.

So far there isn’t any evidence whatsoever that headphones can cause cancer. Headphones do emit small proportions of radiation. So small in fact that it’s hard to detect even with good equipment. The radiation energy is weak and scientists don’t think it can harm humans.

I know that this short answer isn’t quite reassuring, but here’s a thorough explanation.

Headphones & Radiation

Headphones, earbuds, and headsets all emit radiation. We shouldn’t single out headphones, most electronic devices have this issue. If you haven’t found out until now, here’s a surprise for you, smartphones emit radiation too.

Devices that use radiofrequency emit radiation, that’s why these devices have this problem. Radiofrequency relies on electromagnetic fields. These fields release low-level, non-ionizing radiation. Microwaves, TVs, smartphones, and headphones emit radiofrequency radiation.

Related Article – Are Over Ear Headphones Bad For You?

Wearing headphones on the subway

Why Do Headphones Emit Radiation?

Headphones emitting radiation have to do with how they work. On this blog, we’ve talked a lot about how headphones work. Regular readers may be familiar with the process. Just in case, we’ll sum up the process in a few words.

The sounds you’re hearing from the headphones are sound waves. Before they become sound waves, they are only audio signals. Headphones have a diaphragm that produces an electromagnetic field. When the audio signals pass the field, they become sound waves. This is how earbuds work too.

So, that’s why headphones have an electromagnetic field. And we’ve already said that electromagnetic fields can release low-level, non-ionizing radiation. Don’t worry though the electromagnetic field is really low, the National Cancer Institute says there’s no connection between this and cancer.

Related Article – Are Magnetic Earbuds Safe?

Wireless Devices & Radiation

When it comes to wired headphones, the source of radiation is the one we talked about above. Wireless headphones are a bit different. Besides the barely detectable radiation from the diaphragm, wireless devices release radiofrequency radiation (RFR).

Bluetooth headphones and earbuds use radio waves for connection. They also use radio waves for sharing data and signals. When you’re connecting a Bluetooth device to a smartphone they both serve as antennas. The connection is maintained by radio waves, and signals are shared by radio waves. Basically, radio waves are electromagnetic radiation traveling in waves.

This RFR is what most scientists are concerned about. The question is: What levels of radiation do wireless headphones release? And, are these levels of radiation dangerous for you? We can’t speak about all wireless devices because some emit more radiation than others. We can however speak about wireless headphones.

The levels of radiation that wireless headphones emit haven’t shown any signs that they are dangerous. There are some doubts about prolonged exposure. That is, using your headphones for long periods of time. In any case, there isn’t any evidence that using wireless headphones can lead to cancer.

Related article – Are Headphones Bad For Your Brain?

Wearing wireless headphones in the kitchen

Concerns About RFR

Despite the lack of evidence, some scientists were still concerned about radiofrequency radiation from wireless devices. They know that these types of radiation are not exactly dangerous, they are just calling for better regulations.

To put your mind at ease, headphones weren’t singled out. Among the wireless devices that raised concerns with some scientists, headphones are probably the smallest threat. The focus is on smartphones and Wi-Fi technology. In 2015, an appeal was made to WHO by many scientists. They called for better protection against non-ionizing electromagnetic radiation.

Basically, the biggest concern was about cell phones. We use them quite a lot, usually, close to the ear. The RFR from cell phones is a lot stronger than the RFR from wireless headphones. That’s why headphones are not the biggest problem, the RFR energy is too weak. Cell phones, on the other hand, have a broader range of users and are more dangerous.

There are also some sketchy wireless devices from unknown brands. The point is that these devices didn’t pass many regulations. In some cases, there are no regulations. So, you can understand why people would be concerned about devices like these. Fortunately, most of the average and high-quality wireless headphones pass rigorous regulations.

How To Protect Yourself From RFR

Now, most people would say there isn’t anything to protect against. I’m one of the people that would agree with that opinion. Nonetheless, I know that some say more research needs to be done and that worries you. That’s why I offer this guide, in case you want to take precautions.

  1. Don’t use headphones for long periods of time.
    Because the RFR levels from headphones are really low, the only concern is prolonged exposure. While there is no evidence that RFR from headphones can be bad for you, there are doubts about long exposures. That’s why it would be smart if you’re worried about this, do not use your headphones for more than 2-3 hours. Make sure to take breaks before listening again.
  2. Buy headphones from certified brands.
    All certified brands have to go through regulations. So, there’s a certain amount of safety when you buy headphones or earbuds from known brands. They have to respect regulations. The amount of RFR they release is regulated. All headphones come with a manual, and a spec sheet. There you can see which regulations it passed. Also, you can find some tips for safe usage.
  3. Use wired headphones.
    You can avoid wireless devices altogether. There isn’t any connection between wired headphones and cancer. With wired headphones, you don’t have to worry about radiofrequency radiation. They can also help you keep your smartphone away from your head.
  4. Use anti-radiation Air Tube Headphones.
    Air Tube Headphones have a flexible air tube instead of a wire. The sound is carried through this air tube. The electromagnetic field can’t reach you because of the air tube. Here’s a product I recommend: DefenderShield EMF-Free Headphones.

Related Article – Why Are Earbuds Better Than Headphones

Closing Thoughts

So, should you be worried about headphones causing cancer? I would say absolutely not. As I said many times, there isn’t any proof that wired or wireless headphones can cancer. I would be more worried about smartphones.

The scientists that have concerns about RFR just want more research done on the subject and better regulations. They are concerned about children and pregnant women.

The only thing you should avoid is unhealthy listening periods. My advice is to not get carried away with your wireless headphones. Take a rest from time to time, and avoid long periods of listening. You can also consider the Air Tube Headphones. That’s it, folks, hope this helped you out.