Is mobile phone radiation genotoxic? An analysis of micronucleus frequency in exfoliated buccal cells

F. M. de Oliveira, A. M. Carmona, C. Ladeira

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Electromagnetic fields (EMF) are classified as “possibly carcinogenic” by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). Some publications have reported associations between EMF exposure and DNA damage, but many other studies contradict such findings. Cytomorphological changes, such as micronuclei (MN), indicative of genomic damage, are biomarkers of genotoxicity. To test whether mobile phone-associated EMF exposure affects the MN frequency in exfoliated buccal cells, we obtained cells smears from the left and right inner cheeks of healthy mobile phone users, aged 18–30 (n = 86), who also completed a characterization survey. MN frequencies were tested for potential confounding factors and for duration of phone use and preferential side of mobile phone use. No relationship was observed between MN frequency and duration of mobile phone use in daily calls. Cells ipsilateral to mobile phone use did not present a statistically significantly higher MN frequency, compared to cells contralateral to exposure. A highly statistically significant (p < 0.0001) increase in MN frequency was found in subjects reporting regular exposure to genotoxic agents. Therefore, our results suggest that mobile phone-associated EMF do not to induce MN formation in buccal cells at the observed exposure levels.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)41-46
Number of pages6
JournalMutation Research - Genetic Toxicology and Environmental Mutagenesis
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2017


  • Electromagnetic fields
  • Exfoliated buccal cells
  • Feulgen stain
  • Genotoxicity
  • Micronuclei
  • Mobile phones


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