Cell Phone Radiation Possibly
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NEW DELHI: Confirming the worst fears of mobile phone users
all over the world, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has
warned that radiation from cell phones is possibly
cancerous. It has classified the radio frequency
electro-magnetic fields as “possibly carcinogenic to humans,
based on an increased risk for glioma – a malignant type of
brain cancer – associated with wireless phone use”.
The number of mobile phone users globally is estimated to be
5 billion and over the past few years there has been
mounting concern about the possibility of adverse health
effects resulting from exposure to radio frequency
electro-magnetic fields such as those emitted by wireless
Now a study conducted by WHO and the International Agency
for Research on Cancer (IARC) has placed cell phones on a
par with the carcinogenic hazards category as lead, engine
exhaust and chloroform. The findings of the study will be
published in the British medical journal The Lancet Oncology
in its July edition.
A team of 31 scientists from 14 countries, including the US,
arrived at the conclusion after reviewing peer-reviewed
studies on cell phone safety. The team found enough evidence
to categorise personal exposure as “possibly carcinogenic to
humans”. In simple terms, they found some evidence of
increase in glioma and acoustic neuroma brain cancer for
mobile phone users, but have not been able to draw
conclusions for other types of cancers.
The type of radiation coming out of a mobile phone is called
non-ionizing. It is not like an X-ray, but more like a very
low-powered microwave oven. Results from the largest
international study on cell phones and cancer was released
in 2010. It showed participants in the study who used a cell
phone for 10 years or more had doubled the rate of glioma.
To date, there have been no long-term studies on the effects
of cell phone use among children.
In February, a study by researchers at the National
Institute of Health revealed that radiation emitted after
just 50 minutes on a mobile phone increases the activity in
brain cells. The effects of brain activity being
artificially stimulated are still unknown.
Dr. Jonathan Samet of the University of Southern California,
overall chairman of the working group that prepared the
study, 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 cell phones and cancer risk”.
“Given the potential consequences for public health of this
classification and findings,” said IARC Director Christopher
Wild, “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”.
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