WHO Report: No Substantive Link Between Cell Phones, Cancer

Published July 1, 2010

The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer has released a report finding no increased risks of two types of cancerous tumors among mobile phone users. The study, published in the International Journal of Epidemiology, found there currently is no definite answer to whether mobile phones cause brain cancer.
The study, conducted by 21 scientists from a dataset covering 13 countries, found mobile phone usage did not raise the risk of developing two types of tumors.
The “Interphone Study Reports on Mobile Phone Use and Brain Cancer Risk,” released May 17, concludes very heavy mobile phone usage may be linked to gliomas and, to a lesser degree, meningiomas, two types of brain malignancy. However, the connection between very heavy mobile phone use and gliomas can only be “suggested” because many of the study’s participants overstated their mobile use by claiming to use their phones for 12 or more hours per day.
The key question is whether radio waves from mobile phones heat body tissue and then somehow cause tumors.
The WHO report is a setback for policymakers such as San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom (D) who advocates requiring the placement of stickers on cell phones to warn of a link between phone use and cancer [see sidebar].
‘Inceased Risk Not Established’
Once the WHO team could not identify any known biologic mechanism by which mobile phone use could prompt gliomas and meningiomas, WHO International Agency for Research on Cancer Director Christopher Wild released a statement noting it would be premature for anyone to say mobile phones cause cancer.
“An increased risk of brain cancer is not established,” he said.
John Walls, vice president of public affairs for CTIA-The Wireless Association, says the study compliments a large amount of research indicating cell phones do not cause cancer.
“The study’s conclusion that there is no overall increased risk of brain cancer is consistent with the conclusions of an already large body of scientific research on the subject,” he said.
‘Substantial Margin of Safety’
Walls said CTIA supports further research into the connection between mobile phones and brain cancer and stresses cell phones being sold in the United States must adhere to the Federal Communication Commission’s regulations on radio frequency exposure.
“Our industry supports the ongoing efforts of public health specialists and expert scientists in this area. All mobile phones sold in America must meet the FCC’s radio frequency exposure standards that are designed to include a substantial margin of safety for consumers,” he said.
Jack Rowley, director of research at the GSM Association, which represents the mobile phone industry worldwide, said in a statement “the Interphone study goes hand-in-hand with the large amount of research already out there that has repeatedly shown there is no established health risk from radio signals that meet international safety recommendations.”
Thomas Cheplick ([email protected]) writes from Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Internet Info:
Text of the Interphone Study Reports on Mobile Phone Use and Brain Cancer Risk: http://ije.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/reprint/dyq079.