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WHO classifies cell phone RF emissions as possible carcinogen to humans

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), part of the World Health Organization, announced May 31 that it has classified RF electromagnetic fields associated with wireless phone use as possibly carcinogenic to humans — a classification known as Group 2B.

The announcement of the possible link came after a weeklong meeting in which 31 scientists from 14 countries, members of an IARC working group, met in Lyon, France, to assess the potential hazard.

Specifically, the working group decided to classify cell phone RF electromagnetic fields as a possible carcinogen that could increase the risk for glioma, a malignant type of brain cancer. The working group considered hundreds of scientific articles in reaching its conclusions.

The working group discussed and evaluated literature on exposure to RF electromagnetic fields in three areas: occupational exposure to radar and to microwaves; environmental exposure associated with TV, radio and wireless telecommunication transmission; and personal exposure from the use of wireless telephones.

“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 for other types of cancers,” a press statement announcing the classification said. “The evidence from the occupational and environmental exposures mentioned above was similarly judged inadequate.”

Responding to the findings, CTIA-The Wireless Association, said the IARC classification doesn’t mean cell phones cause cancer. “IARC conducts numerous reviews and in the past has given the same score to, for example, pickled vegetables and coffee,” the association said in a statement posted on its website.

Jonathan Samet, M.D., of the University of Southern California and chairman of the working group, said in the IARC announcement of the classification 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."