A study has found that spending 30 minutes or more on a mobile phone per week is linked to a 12% increased risk of developing high blood pressure or hypertension. The study, published in the European Heart Journal – Digital Health, used data from the UK Biobank to examine the relationship between talking on mobile phones and new-onset hypertension.
A total of 212,046 adults aged 37 to 73 years without hypertension were engaged in the study. Participants were asked to report their mobile phone usage, including years of use, hours per week, and whether they used a hands-free device or speakerphone.
Over a median follow-up of 12 years, 13,984 participants (7%) developed hypertension. Mobile phone users who used a mobile phone at least once a week for making and receiving phone calls were found to have a 7% higher risk of hypertension compared to non-users. Those who talked on their mobile for 30 minutes or more per week had a 12% greater likelihood of new-onset high blood pressure than participants who spent less than 30 minutes on phone calls. The results were similar for women and men. Weekly usage time of 30-59 minutes, 1-3 hours, 4-6 hours, and more than 6 hours was associated with an 8%, 13%, 16%, and 25% raised risk of high blood pressure, respectively.
The study found that it was the number of minutes people spent talking on a mobile phone that mattered for heart health, with more minutes meaning greater risk. However, years of use and employing a hands-free device or speakerphone had no influence on the likelihood of developing high blood pressure. A genetic risk analysis showed that the likelihood of developing high blood pressure was 33% higher in those with high genetic risk and spending at least 30 minutes talking over the phone compared to those with low genetic risk and talking over the phone for less than 30 minutes.
Mobile phones emit low levels of radiofrequency energy, which has been linked with rises in blood pressure after short-term exposure, according to the study. Hypertension is a major risk factor for heart attack and stroke and a leading cause of premature death globally.
“More research is required to replicate the results, but until then it seems prudent to keep mobile phone calls to a minimum to preserve heart health,” said Xianhui Qin of Southern Medical University, Guangzhou, China, who is the lead author of the study. The findings suggest that almost three-quarters of the global population aged 10 and over who own a mobile phone should consider the amount of time they spend talking on it, to reduce the risk of developing hypertension
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