Skip to main content

WHO Says Cell Phones May Cause Cancer

This week it was hard to miss all the stories on the WHO/International Agency for Research on Cancer's (IARC) new release IARC Classifies Radiofrequency Electromagnetic Fields as Possibly Carcinogenic to Humans.

I've linked directly to the IARC release, rather than to other media reports that drew their own conclusions on the results of a meeting of a Working Group of 31 scientists from 14 countries meeting at IARC in Lyon, France May 24-31. There are a few important items to note, including the statement in the report that termed exposure to electromagnetic fields as "possibly" a carcinogenic agent.

The assessments on RF electromagnetic fields will be published as a monograph focusing on physical carcinogenic agents. Other volumes in the series identifying cancer causing entities include an examination of solar radiation, ionizing radiation, and non-ionizing radiation.

After evaluating available literature on occupational exposures to radar and to microwave energy, environmental exposures associated with radio television and wireless telecommunications, and personal exposure from wireless telephone use, the IRAC Working Group discussed the possibility that these exposures might induce long-term health effects, "in particular an increased risk for cancer."

According to the group:

"This has relevance for public health, particularly for users of mobile phones, as the number of users is large and growing, particularly among young adults and children."

If you are feeling the effects of RF and other electromagnetic waves, you may be interested in this MSNBC story – Woozy from Wi-Fi? 'Electrosensitive' say modern life makes them ill. It talks about Varmland, an "unplugged" community in the remote forests of Sweden and a couple that lives there without electricity.

Can people really detect electromagnetic fields?

The article quotes Elaine Fox, a psychology professor at the University of Essex who studied people in the United Kingdom who thought they were "electrosensitive."

According to Fox:

"What we found, overall, was actually that people couldn't tell above chance, so they were really ... just guessing, in terms of whether it [an electrical or electromagnetic source] was on or off." The article quotes a neuroscientist who disagreed, saying "The long-term effects points to an association to things like brain cancer, leukemia, neurological diseases."

Doug Lung is one of America's foremost authorities on broadcast RF technology. He has been with NBC since 1985 and is currently vice president of broadcast technology for NBC/Telemundo stations.