Mobile

World Health Organization: cell phones possibly carcinogenic (updated)

Cell phone radiation might be carcinogenic — meaning the radiation could be linked to some cases of cancer — according to a panel assembled by the World Health Organization (WHO) to study the effects of the devices.

The WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) previously held that cell phone radiation was not carcinogenic. That partly silenced many critics who claimed cell phone radiation was causing brain tumors and that cell phones were more dangerous than previously believed. It has since upgraded cell phone radiation to the third highest rating, below “probably carcinogenic” and “carcinogenic.”

It’s likely the WHO’s latest classification will once again ignite criticism of cell phones and debate over whether cell phone radiation can cause cancer. There are around 5 billion people currently using cell phones, according to the report by the IARC. The IARC is recommending people take pragmatic measures to reduce exposure to cell phone radiation — such as relying on texting and hands-free communication like bluetooth headsets.

The new classification indicates that there is some link between cancer and radiofrequency electromagnetic fields that are emitted by cell phones, but extensive study is still necessary. The panel found that the evidence that cell phone radiation was linked to one type of brain cancer was “limited” — and the association with any other type of cancer was “inadequate.” According to the report, the “limited” classification is just one step above the “inadequate” classification.

Mobile wireless association CTIA, one of the wireless industry’s main trade groups, refuted the WHO’s findings and said that the panel of scientists did not conduct any new research — instead it just reviewed existing studies. The classification does not mean that cell phones cause cancer and the IRAC has given the same score to other seemingly harmless substances, the association said.

The panel consisted of 31 scientists pulled from 14 different countries that reviewed two large studies that found a relationship between cell phone use and Glioma, a form of brain cancer. The scientists reviewed those studies and other scientific literature for eight days at a meeting in Lyons, France.


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