9:55 AM EDT, June 11, 2013
Young women all over the country are tucking their cell phones in their bras. New sports bras even have a handy pocket for a cell phone.
Tiffany Frantz never thought slipping her cell phone into her bra could be putting her life in danger. But now she says, “A cell phone may have caused my breast cancer.”
For five years, Tiffany, who lives in Pennsylvania, kept her cell phone in her bra against her bare skin. “All day, every day, 12 hours a day,” she said.
Tiffany found it more convenient than keeping it in a purse. “Someone called, I'd answer, text right back. Tuck it right back in.”
Then Tiffany noticed a small lump in her breast. The lump got bigger. A biopsy was performed, and the diagnosis was devastating.
“They said it was breast cancer,” said her mom, Traci. “To hear that about your 21-year-old daughter is mortifying.”
Tiffany underwent a mastectomy on her left breast.
“Death was the first thing that popped in my mind,” she said.
Tiffany was a healthy 21-year-old with no family history of breast cancer or any other genetic pre-disposition. So could it have been a cell phone?
“I absolutely believe that storing her cell phone in her bra gave her cancer,” said Traci. “No doubt.”
Traci read the fine print in her family's cell phone manuals. “It’s in black and white.” She read, “Keep it 5/8 of an inch or more away from your body.”
Dr. John West, a Los Angeles breast cancer surgeon, said, “This is a real problem now. If I were a mother, I'd be scared because I know this is common behavior among these teenage girls. They hide it in their bra.”
Dr. West looked into Tiffany's case. He said, "You would not expect to see this in any 21-year-old ever."
Mom Traci said, “The masses were right under the skin where she would have kept her cell phone.”
Dr. West says breast tissue in teens is particularly vulnerable to radiation. “In my heart of hearts, I know something is going on. I can't say they're causing the breast cancer, but I absolutely can say with passion, that until we get more information, stop! stop! stop!”
Now 23, Tiffany had reconstructive breast surgery and is still undergoing chemotherapy. She warns women to make the bra a no phone zone.
“If it happened to me it could happen to anybody,” she said.
It's important to note that Tiffany's cell phone was completely shut down while she was demonstrating where she kept it, so she wasn't in any danger. And while Tiffany believes she knows what caused her cancer, there are no studies that conclusively link cell phones to breast cancer.