WHO Cancer Research Says: Heavy Cell Phone Use May Cause Type of Brain Cancer

The possible risk of cell phone radiation causing cancer has been an ongoing debate for years. CNN published this item based on a report from the World Health Organization (WHO)

WHO: Cell phone use can increase possible cancer risk

Is this just a sensationalistic headline? Not really based on their careful wording (“can increase possible cancer risk”) and the six page WHO report. Here are the key points I found in the report.

IARC CLASSIFIES RADIOFREQUENCY ELECTROMAGNETIC FIELDS AS POSSIBLY CARCINOGENIC TO HUMAN (PDF)

1. A “heavy user” is defined as someone who speaks on a cell phone an average of 30 minutes a day (or more) over a 10-year period. This works out to 900 minutes per month (based on a 30 day month). So, if you have a 1000 minute per month plan and come close to the limit or go over it, you are a heavy user.

2. There four classifications of cancer risk called “Groups”. Group 1 is used to classify something that has “sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity.” The other end of the scale is Group 4 which is used to classify something for which there is “evidence suggesting lack of carcinogenicity.” Group 2 has two sub-categories: 2A and 2B. 2A is defined as something that is “probably carcinogenic to humans.” Cell phone radiation was classified as 2B: “Possibly cardinogenc.” My interpretation is that this means they are not certain but evidence indicates there is a good possibility that heavy use of cell phones in close proximity to the head may create an increased risk for a kind of malignant brain cancer (glioma).

3. The WHO report’s recommendation is to reduce exposure to cell phone radiation by simply moving it away from the head by using hands-free devices or sending text messages. They do not specify if Bluetooth headsets are classified as safe hands-free devices.

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