Cell phone use could cause brain cancer
LYON, France, Wednesday June 1, 2011 – With the Caribbean having one of the highest levels of mobile penetration in the world, residents will no doubt be paying close attention to the latest findings by a group of scientists that exposure to electromagnetic fields emitted by cell phones could possibly cause cancer, including an increased risk in a malignant type of brain tumour.
The findings were reported by the World Health Organization’s (WHO) International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) as a group of 31 scientists from 14 countries was meeting at its headquarters in Lyon, France, to assess the potential cancer risks from exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields.
The working group evaluated the relevant literature and discussed the possibility that these exposures might induce long-term health effects, in particular an increased risk for glioma, a type of brain cancer, according to WHO and IARC.
However, the researchers did say the evidence was not conclusive.
Of the five scientific labels which the IARC could give – carcinogenic, probably carcinogenic, possibly carcinogenic, not classifiable or probably not carcinogenic – it rated cell phones as "possibly carcinogenic" because of the potential link with glioma.
"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,” said Director of the IARC, Christopher Wild.
"Pending the availability of such information, it is important to take pragmatic measures to reduce exposure such as hands free devices or texting."
There has been mounting concern the past few years about the possibility of adverse health effects resulting from exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields, such as those emitted by wireless communication devices.
The number of mobile phone subscriptions is now estimated at five billion globally.
A March 2011 report indicated that by early that year, average mobile penetration in Caribbean countries was over 62 percent, with rates ranging from single figures to over 300 percent in individual countries.
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