updated 05:25 pm EDT, Tue May 31, 2011
Taking cautious measures in reclassifying usage
The World Health Organization (WHO) has issued a new warning that cell phone usage could potentially increase the risk of certain types of cancer. Accordingly, WHO has reclassified radiofrequency electromagnetic fields as possibly carcinogenic to humans.
During the past week, a Working Group of the WHO's International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) met in France to review past and current research into the relationship between radiofrequency electromagnetic fields, as emitted by cell phones, and the risk of cancer. The 31 scientists concluded that long-term exposure could potentially cause an specific increased risk for glioma, a malignant type of brain cancer, as well as a benign tumor known as acoustic neuroma.
"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. "
Based on this concern, the IARC has classified radiofrequency electromagnetic fields as possibly carcinogenic to humans. The IARC has classified it as a "Group 2B" risk. This puts exposure in the same category as low frequency magnetic waves and professions such as carpentry, dry cleaning, firefighting and printing.
The Working Group also noted that there was no statistical evidence linking cellphone usage to other forms of cancer.
A report summarizing details of the the IARC Working Group's conclusions will be published in the July issue of The Lancet Oncology shortly.