Cell phones ‘possibly carcinogenic,’ says WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer

May 31, 2011

(Credit: stock image)

The WHO/International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified radio frequency (RF) electromagnetic fields as possibly carcinogenic to humans (Group 2B), based on an increased risk for glioma, a malignant type of brain cancer associated with wireless phone use, IARC says.

From May 24–31, 2011, a Working Group of 31 scientists from 14 countries met at IARC in Lyon, France to assess the potential carcinogenic hazards from exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields.

The evidence was reviewed critically, and overall evaluated as being “limited among users of wireless telephones for glioma and acoustic neuroma,” and “inadequate to draw conclusions [from] for other types of cancers.”

However, one study of past cell phone use (up to the year 2004), showed a 40% increased risk for gliomas in the highest category of heavy users.

Dr. Jonathan Samet (University of Southern California), Chairman of the Working Group, indicated that “the evidence, while still accumulating, is strong enough to support a
conclusion and the 2B classification. The conclusion means that there could be some risk, and therefore we need to keep a close watch for a link between cell phones and cancer risk.”

“Given the potential consequences for public health of this classification and findings,” said IARC Director Christopher Wild, “it is important that additional research be conducted into the long‐term, heavy use of mobile phones. Pending the availability of such information, it is important to take pragmatic measures to reduce exposure, such as hands‐free devices or texting.”

A concise report summarizing the main conclusions of the IARC Working Group and the evaluations of the carcinogenic hazard from radio frequency electromagnetic fields (including the use of mobile telephones) will be published in The Lancet Oncology in its July 1 issue.

Also see: New studies reveal evidence that cell phone radiation damages DNA, brain, and sperm