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.