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World Health Organization Says Cell Phones May Cause Cancer

Radiofrequency electromagnetic fields from mobile phones may cause cancer in humans, a World Health Organization agency said, citing a review of studies. Exposure from handsets...
June 1, 2011

Radiofrequency electromagnetic fields from mobile phones may cause cancer in humans, a World Health Organization agency said, citing a review of studies. Exposure from handsets is greater than that from mobile-phone towers and base stations, Dr. Robert Baan, the senior scientist in charge of the International Agency for Research on Cancer's report on the subject, said on a conference call. Radiofrequency electromagnetic fields are "possibly" cancer-causing, according to the IARC.

"There is some evidence for an increased risk of glioma," or brain cancer, said Kurt Straif, head of the IARC Monographs Program. "It's not at the moment clearly established that the use of mobile phones does in fact cause cancer." This is the first time an agency working group has surveyed previous research on radiofrequency electromagnetic fields to make a definitive recommendation, Nicolas Gaudin, an IARC spokesman, said in an e-mail.

Concerns have existed since the late 1990s that cell phones might be harmful to consumers' health, the WHO agency said. The U.S. Federal Communication Commission has said devices with a specific absorption rate, the amount of radio frequency energy absorbed by the body, within a set limit are safe. However, the FCC notes that there is no federally developed national standard for safe levels of exposure to radiofrequency (RF) energy.

The WHO has now listed mobile phones as a 'carcinogenic hazard,' alongside lead, engine exhaust fumes and chloroform.

Read more about the potential cell phone risks: Mobile Phones Can Increase Risk of Cancer (London Daily Mail 5/31/11)

Learn more about the WHO study: Cell Phones May Cause Cancer: WHO (Bloomberg 5/31/11)