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Mobile phones may cause brain cancer

World Health Organisation says possible increased risk of glioma from extended mobile use

The World Health Organisation says there may be an increased risk of brain cancer for heavy mobile phone users.
The World Health Organisation says there may be an increased risk of brain cancer for heavy mobile phone users.

The World Health Organisation and the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has associated a possible increased risk of the malignant brain cancer, glioma, with the use of mobile phones.

In a press release by WHO, the NGO classified radiofrequency electromagnetic fields, such as those emitted by mobile phones as possibly carcinogenic to humans.

"Over the last few years, there has been mounting concern about the possibility of adverse health effects resulting from exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields, such as those emitted by wireless communication devices. The number of mobile phone subscriptions is estimated at five billion globally," read the statement.

All available literature and evidence of cancer caused by the use of mobile phones was reviewed by a Working Group of 31 scientists from 14 countries between 24th and 31st May in Lyon France, and the risk of cancer from mobile phones was evaluated as being limited but possible for glioma and acoustic neuroma, but inadequate to draw conclusions for other types of cancers.

Dr Jonathan Samet from the University of Southern California, USA and the overall Chairman of the Working Group, said that "the evidence, while still accumulating, is strong enough to support a conclusion... The conclusion means that there could be some risk [of cancer], and therefore we need to keep a close watch for a link between cell phones and cancer risk."

Christopher Wild, IARC director said that mobile phone users should take measures to reduce exposure to the possibly harmful radiofrequency electromagnetic fields by using a hands-free device or SMS instead of phone calls.

"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," said Wild.

According to WHO, one study of past cell phone use, up to the year 2004, showed a 40% increased risk for gliomas amongst heavy users of mobile phones. Heavy use is classified as those who use the device an average of 30 minutes per day over a 10-year period.