Experts Fuel Cellphone, Cancer Controversy - InformationWeek
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12:02 PM
Ed Hansberry
Ed Hansberry

Experts Fuel Cellphone, Cancer Controversy

A report says there is significant evidence that cellphone users are at higher risk for a malignant type of brain cancer.

The World Health Organization (WHO) issued a press release on Tuesday together with the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) that states that electromagnetic fields are possibly carcinogenic to humans. There has been found to be a 40% increase in gliomas for those that use a cellphone for 30 minutes a day over a 10-year period.

However, more than just cellphones are part of the study, according to the joint press release. Those in occupations that are exposed to radar and microwaves, those with environmental exposure from radio, TV, and wireless signals, as well as users of wireless headsets, are all at higher risk. I say this as I am typing away on my laptop that is connected to my wireless router while my cellphone sits less than three feet from my head, syncing several email accounts.

It is interesting the study considers those that use their phone 30 minutes a day "heavy users." There are people in my office that use their cellphones about 30 minutes every hour. I'm not much of a cellphone talker, but I use it constantly for data.

This study comes on the heels of a study published earlier this year that cellphones reduce bone density for those that keep them in a pocket or in a holster for 11 hours a day, which often covers from the time you take the phone off the charger in the morning through the end of the work day when you set it on the nightstand.

While the WHO/IARC paper isn't conclusive, it does end with a strong statement:

Dr. Jonathan Samet, from the University of Southern California and overall chairman of the working group, indicated 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 therefore we need to keep a close watch for a link between cellphones and cancer risk."

The 2B classification referred to above is:

"This category is used for agents for which there is limited evidence of carcinogenicity in humans and less than sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity in experimental animals. It may also be used when there is inadequate evidence of carcinogenicity in humans but there is sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity in experimental animals. In some instances, an agent for which there is inadequate evidence of carcinogenicity in humans and less than sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity in experimental animals together with supporting evidence from mechanistic and other relevant data may be placed in this group. An agent may be classified in this category solely on the basis of strong evidence from mechanistic and other relevant data."

I'm no expert in double-speak, but I think that means that there are varying levels of risk for some forms of cancer.

Will this and the bone density study cause you to change your cellphone usage habits? If not, what about your family? Will you be so quick to give your kids a cellphone to cart around so they can talk and text at will? I think I'll be more inclined to use the landline when possible and my cellphone will spend more time in my bag rather than on my person.

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User Rank: Apprentice
12/22/2011 | 4:42:14 PM
re: Experts Fuel Cellphone, Cancer Controversy
I will probably go back to carrying my cell phone in my pocket with it turned off. My father recently died from glioblastoma. The location of the tumor suggested cell phone usage, but he rarely used one. However, he regularly used a cordless land-line phone. I'm guilty of doing both, so I will probably be in the same boat in a few years. I won't buy my kids cell phones if I can help it. Maybe its time to improve wireless technology again. We need to develop ultra-low em devices.
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