The Washington Post

Carcinogenic cellphones? There must be an app for that.

Murderer! (bigstock)

According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer, a panel of the World Health Organization, they’re as “possibly carcinogenic” as DDT.

Now they belong to something ominously entitled Category 2B, along with 240 other substances.

In a fit of terror, I clicked on the list.

Do you know what else is a possible cancer-causing agent? Everything.

It turns out that the only thing that unifies everything I enjoy in life is that it tends to cause cancer. Coffee? Yup, possible cancer-causing agent, although the list includes the helpful caveat that “There is some evidence of an inverse relationship between coffee drinking and cancer of the large bowel.”

Otherwise, it’s all lethal. Caffeine! Chlorinated drinking water! Fields of static electricity! Hair-coloring products! Organic lead compound! Polyurethane foams! Printing inks! Pulp and paper manufacture! Sudan I, Sudan II, and Sudan III, which I thought were dangerous only for political reasons. Involuntary smoking! Sunlamps! Wood smoke! Tea! Boot and shoe manufacture and repair! “Zeolites other than erionite (clinoptilolite, phillipsite, mordenite, non-fibrous Japanese zeolite, synthetic zeolites)!” Are you kidding me? I don’t even know what those look like. I might be dating one.

Surgical implants and other foreign bodies? Most of my best friends are foreign bodies! Cobalt sulfate and other soluble cobalt salts? Those are my favorite salts!

The list is enough to make you lie down in the fetal position, except that you have no idea what synthetic zeolites might be lying in wait for you there. Now whenever I go into a room, I yell, “Hey, clinoptilolite, get out of here!” in an effort to scare it off, but the effort to pronounce it overtaxes my system.

Life tends to cause cancer, or other forms of death. Go outdoors? You will eventually die. Stay in bed? You fool, don’t you know that most accidents occur within the home? I would say that death is inevitable, but the Singularity is due in 2045, at which point we will merge all our feeble bodies into the hive mind, and after that, who knows?

Besides, cellphones are already destroying our lives in far more insidious ways. We no longer talk. We text. We can’t find our way out of a paper bag without asking GoogleMaps Mobile to direct us. We are so busy tweeting that we have run out of things to say in person.

Maybe the phones have found a way to put us out of our misery.

There are so many other ways cellphones can kill you. Someone can bludgeon you with an old one. You can become so dependent upon iPhone apps that you lose the ability to entertain, feed or clothe yourself. There’s probably an Android app that emits a high-pitched noise to slowly drive you insane.

I would be worried that cellphones cause cancer were I not confident that before cancer gets to me, the phone will distract me while driving and I will careen off a cliff.

Perhaps the most interesting thing that the study noted was that soon, it will be impossible to tell whether or not these things cause cancer. Compare people without cellphones to people with cellphones? The S-curve has already taken its toll. Where are you going to find a control group?

Alexandra Petri writes the ComPost blog, offering a lighter take on the news and opinions of the day. She is the author of "A Field Guide to Awkward Silences".


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