The World Health Organisation (WHO) has classified radiofrequency electromagnetic fields as “possibly carcinogenic to humans”. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), which is part of the WHO, based its conclusion on an increased risk for glioma, a malignant type of brain cancer associated with wireless phone use. Between 24 and 31 May, a group of 31 scientists from fourteen countries met in Lyon, France, to assess the potential carcinogenic hazards from exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields, including mobile phones.
The evidence was reviewed critically, and overall evaluated as being limited among users of wireless telephones for glioma and acoustic neuroma, and inadequate to draw conclusions for other types of cancers. The group did not quantify the risk. Christopher Wild, director of the monograph working group of the IARC, called for more research into long-term, heavy use of mobile phones. Industry groups such as the GSMA and Mobile Manufacturers Forum underlined that the review shows a “possible, but not likely” risk to mobile phone users. They also pointed concerned consumers to the WHO’s recommendations for mobile users looking to reduce exposure, such as using a headset, limiting the number and length of calls, and ensuring good reception in order to reduce the phone’s power use. They noted as well that the IARC classification will need to be examined by national public health agencies and the World Health Organization before any policy recommendations can be made.