A new report has been issued regarding the risk of brain tumors associated with cell phone use.
The WHO/International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified the type of emissions from cell phones, called radiofrequency electromagnetic fields, as possibly carcinogenic to people. This is considered a 2B classification, which states that "a positive association has been observed between exposure to the agent and cancer for which a causal interpretation is considered by the Working Group to be credible, but chance, bias, or confounding could not be ruled out with reasonable confidence."
The IARC Monograph Working Group, made up of 31 scientists from 14 countries, looked at existing data and found that there was limited evidence of carcinogenicity1 among users of cell phones for two types of brain tumors, glioma and acoustic neuroma, and inadequate evidence to draw conclusions for other types of cancers.
Dr. Jonathan Samet, overall Chairman of the Working Group, said 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 there we need to keep a close watch for a link between cell phones and cancer risk."
Given this classification, the National Brain Tumor Society reiterates its response to the findings by the Interphone Study Group, which were published in the June 2010 in the International Journal of Epidemiology: more research on the effects of cell phone use is necessary, especially in regards to the effects on children; and in the absence of conclusive evidence of its risk, consider the following suggestions:
- Use a cell phone that emits lower amounts of radiation.
- Use wired headsets and speakers, which emit much less radiation than phones. A speaker also allows you to use the cell phone away from your head.
- Cell phones emit radiation when you talk or text, but not when you receive messages. Listening more and talking less reduces exposure.
- Hold the cell phone away from your body.
- Try to text instead of talking on the cell phone.
- A poor signal means that the cell phone is emitting more radiation so if the signal is not strong, consider not using the cell phone.
- Limit cell phone use for children.
This advice is supported by IARC Director Christopher Wild, who said:
"Given the potential consequences for public health of this classification and findings, 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
A summary report of the IARC Working Group’s findings will be published in the July 1, 2011 issue of The Lancet Oncology.