October 18, 2017

WHO – ‘Mobile phones may cause brain cancer’

There has always been that lingering doubt about the safety of mobile phones. The WHO findings certainly suggest there might be grounds for having those doubts.

A review of evidence around mobile phones and cancer suggests an increased risk of a malignant type of brain cancer cannot be ruled out.

A group of 31 experts from The World Health Organization’s cancer research agency meeting in Lyon, France says mobile phones are “possibly carcinogenic”.

However, they stress any link is not certain – they concluded that it was “not clearly established that it does cause cancer in humans”.

The WHO looked at all relevant human studies of people using mobile phones and exposure to electromagnetic fields in their workplace.

The WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) can give mobile phones one of five scientific labels: carcinogenic, probably carcinogenic, possibly carcinogenic, not classifiable or not carcinogenic.

It concluded that mobiles should be rated as “possibly carcinogenic” because of a possible link with a type of brain cancer – glioma.

Ed Yong, head of health information at Cancer Research UK, said: “The WHO’s verdict means that there is some evidence linking mobile phones to cancer but it is too weak to draw strong conclusions from.”

“The vast majority of existing studies have not found a link between phones and cancer, and if such a link exists, it is unlikely to be a large one.’

The WHO estimated that there are five billion mobile phone users in the world.

Christopher Wild, director of the IARC, 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.”