There's rumours that 5G radiation causes cancer. So we spoke to the experts.

There’s a real fear at the moment that the new 5G mobile network causes cancer.

It’s being chatted about in workplace kitchens, and discussed within WhatsApp groups.

It’s a fear that’s multiplying and morphing – but where did it start? And should we be listening to it?

The Quicky did a deep dive into the affects of the 5G network. Post continues after podcast. 

The reason 5G was created in the first place, is because we’ve created a bit of a problem.

We’re still using the same radio frequency bands we’ve been using since before smartphones were as advanced as they are now, so it’s all getting very crowded.

The answer is to explore other parts of the radio frequency spectrum to see if they too can transmit data.

5G uses millimetre waves on a higher frequency between 30 and 300 gigahertz and will be about 60 times faster than 4G.

The radio waves we’ve been using previously are huge in comparison – they’re tens of centimetres long.

Satellite operators and radar systems already utilise this space, but it does have its limitations. It can’t for example, travel though buildings very well and they [the waves] can be absorbed by trees and rain.

So in order to allow 5G to exist in this space, more antenna are needed throughout the country in closer proximity – which is what’s happening now.

A video has been doing the rounds fuelling claims about the “cancer causing properties” of the 5G network.

Here’s a snippet. Post continues after video.

Video via Jessie Reimers

It was uploaded by self proclaimed visionary, wellness advocate, disrupter and activist Jessie Reimers who has started a petition and wants the rollout of 5G stopped, until an independent study looks into its impacts.

The Quicky spoke to two experts in this field to unpack the fears. Here’s what they found out:

Fear One: The safety body setting the “standards” are getting financial gain from 5G.

The Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) is responsible for setting the safety standards for radiation and exposure in our country.

Dr Gillian Hirth works for ARPANSA and told The Quicky, “That’s not correct” when asked by host Claire Murphy if the body receives $1 million annually from wireless networks – which is the claim made in Reimer’s viral video.

“We receive 50% of our revenue from government appropriation and the remainder through our own forced revenue, which include cost recovery arrangements for our regulatory services and other service activities that we undertake.

“ARPANSA doesn’t receive any funding from industry be that the telecommunication industry or any other industry.”

Fear Two: Our “safety limit” for radiation is set 100 times higher than other countries.

The Australian standard, according to Dr Hirth, is set by international guidelines.

“There are a small number of countries that have chosen to inflict stricter standards but you’ll find the decision to inflict stricter standards has not been based on credible scientific evidence – they’ve made the decision to reduce the standard for other reasons,” she said.

Dr Hirth can’t confirm if the emissions from our towers will be “100 times higher” than the countries that have chosen this route, however she makes the point that emissions from any of the towers in Australia are in compliance with national standards, and the standards used in a large majority of countries worldwide.

Fear Three: 5G will cause cancer.

Reimer’s video tells us that the idea that “radio frequency radiation is harmful to living organisms was formed from a literature base of over 10,000 peer reviewed studies.”

The studies suggest that exposure can cause cancer, cellular stress, chronic disease, reproductive and genetic disorders and mental health issues.

Dr Karl Kruszelnicki is one of Australia’s most well known science commentators and calls this the “BAF” or “bull-dust asymmetry factor.”

“All of those statements are incorrect, and each one to refute has a BAF factor of somewhere between 20 to 400.


“So you quote something that’s wrong in four seconds and it’ll take me 400 seconds to refute it,” Dr Kruszelnicki told The Quicky.

“So by piling all of these things together you give the impression that there’s a whole heap of peer reviewed literature proving radiation causes cancer and has bad health effects and the straight answer is – no.

“It’s like saying global warming isn’t real or the earth is flat, if you say it fast enough and confidently enough than people who aren’t skilled in that area, don’t have the time or the knowledge to debunk each one.”

Dr Kruszelnicki points out that the main two “studies” claiming 5G causes cancer are each about 300 pages long.

“I’ve read every bit of them and when you read the actual study in one – the mice exposed to radiation live longer than the mice that aren’t exposed,” he said.

“The studies are odd… and they don’t get consistent results,” he told The Quicky.

What electro-magnetic radiation will do to you physically, is warm your skin up by a millionth of a degree, says Dr Kruszelnicki.

So, in conclusion?

The other fear about 5G stems from the the World Health Organisation who has classified all radio frequency emissions as a possible carcinogen.

But it’s important to understand that in perspective: pickles and Aloe Vera also make that classification.

One of the biggest barriers in drawing conclusions about 5G is the difficulty that comes with running an objective study on its effects. It’s impossible to expose some of the population to cellphone radiation, while ensuring another part of the population isn’t exposed at all. We do know, however, that there is no confirmed linear relationship between increased radiation exposure and higher cancer rates.

Nonetheless, some researchers suggest that given the gaps in our knowledge when it comes to mobile phone radiation exposure, we should exercise caution.

ARPANSA insist that no health effects are expected from the move to 5G, and that 5G is not radically different to 4G.

They do acknowledge, however, that more research is needed to reassure the Australian population, and more comprehensively understand the effects of radiation on the human body.