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WHO classifies cell phones as possibly carcinogenic

Tuesday, June 28, 2011 by: Dave Gabriele
Tags: cell phones, cancer risk, health news

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(NewsTarget) On May 31, 2011, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in Lyon, France, a division of the World Health Organization, has announced that it has classified cell phones as "possibly carcinogenic to humans" (Group 2B).

The announcement comes after a working group of 31 scientists from 14 countries met for one week (May 24-31) in Lyon, France, to assess the dangers of radio frequency electromagnetic field exposure. Their job was to review hundreds of scientific articles on the effects of radio frequency EMFs on humans and animals and all other relevant studies and information.

The new classification is based on evidence of an increased risk of glioma, which is a type of malignant brain cancer, and acoustic neuroma, a tumor of the nerve that connects the ear to the brain. The findings will be published in Volume 102 of the IARC Monographs.

There are now over 5 billion users of cell phones in the world and that number is increasing rapidly. According to IARC's Globocan Project, there were approximately 238,000 new cases of brain cancers in 2008 occurring worldwide, and gliomas represented about 66% of these cases.

The IARC Monograph Working Group has expressed that exposures to radio frequency EMF radiation are suspected of causing long-term health effects including an increased risk of cancer. The sources of the radiation also include occupational exposures to radar and to microwaves; environmental exposures associated with transmission of signals for radio, television and wireless telecommunication; and personal exposures associated with the use of wireless telephones.

"The evidence, while still accumulating, is strong enough to support a conclusion and the 2B classification," commented Dr. Jonathan Samet of the University of Southern California and the Chairman of the IARC Working Group. "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."

IARC Director Christopher Wild 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."

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) is part of the World Health Organization. IARC's mission is to coordinate and conduct research on the causes of human cancer and the mechanisms of carcinogenesis and to develop scientific strategies for cancer prevention and control. The Agency is involved in both epidemiological and laboratory research and disseminates scientific information through publications, meetings, courses, and fellowships.

IARC's 2008 Globocan Project was for the purpose of providing contemporary estimates of the incidence of and mortality from major type of cancers, at national level, for all countries of the world.


About the author

Dave Gabriele, D.Ac, BA, is a registered acupuncturist, a practitioner of traditional Chinese medicine and a health researcher helping people in and around the Greater Toronto Area. He is the founder of Life Balance Family Health Care (www.balanceyourlife.ca), an organization committed to providing people with the information and guidance they need to make positive lifestyle changes. Dave has been a teacher of Chinese martial arts since 1997, including the arts of Taiji and Qigong.

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