Cell phones may cause brain cancer
An international panel of experts have flagged cell phones as possible causes of cancerous brain tumours in humans.
The panel reached this conclusion after reviewing details from dozens of published studies.
The panel of experts convened by the International Agency for Research on Cancer(IARC) reviewed possible links between cancer and the type of electromagnetic radiation found in cellphones, microwaves and radar.
IARC is part of the World Health Organization. The panel's assessment now goes to WHO and national agencies for possible guidance on cellphone use.
Same category as DDT and car engine exhaust
The group classified cellphones in category 2B, meaning they are possibly carcinogenic to humans. Other substances in that category include the pesticide DDT and gasoline engine exhaust.
The classification is based on an increased risk for glioma, a malignant type of brain cancer associated with wireless phone use. Of the 237 913 new cases of brain cancers that occurred around the world in 2008 gliomas represent 2/3.
Dr Jonathan Samet (University of Southern California, USA), overall 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."
More texting and hands-free
"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 radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (including the use of mobile telephones) will be published in The Lancet Oncology in its July 1 issue, and, in a few days, on line. For further information visit http://www.iarc.fr
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