A panel of experts from the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has declared cellphones a potential cancer risk. This comes after reviewing thousands of research articles from experts around the globe. Before this, there were no adverse health effects from the use of cell phones, according to IARC.
We found some threads of evidence telling us how cancers might occur, but there were acknowledged gaps and uncertainties.
Cellphones are now on the list of “possibly carcinogenic to humans” substances which also includes substances like lead, gasoline engine exhaust and chloroform. There are two higher classifications for risky substances — “probably carcinogenic” and “carcinogen”.
According to Ed Yong, Head of Health Information at Cancer Research U.K:
The WHO’s verdict means there is some evidence linking mobile phones to cancer but it is too weak to draw strong conclusions from. If such a link exists, it is unlikely to be a large one.
The wireless industry has maintained that cell phones are completely safe, which is right to an extent. According to CTIA spokesman:
The IARC has given the same “possibly carcinogenic to humans” classification to pickled vegetables and coffee. This IARC classification does not mean cellphones cause cancer. Under IARC rules, limited evidence from statistical studies can be found even though bias and other data flaws may be the basis for the results.
Last year, a study found no link between cellphones and cancer — and was heavily criticized because of indefinite results. Another study showed that cellphones does have an effect on human brain but couldn’t determine whether the effects were beneficial or harmful.
It is important that additional research be conducted into the long‐term on 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.
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