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WHO Report: Cell Phone Could Cause Cancer
By Anil Giri
Kathmandu Correspondent
WHO Report: Cell phone could cause cancer

Radiation from cell phones could "possibly" cause cancer, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Issuing a report on May 31 (Tuesday), 2011, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), which is an arm of the WHO, said it now lists mobile phone use in the same category as lead, gasoline engine exhaust, and chloroform. Officially, cell phone radiation is listed as a "carcinogenic hazard."

The WHO/International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in its latest report classified radiofrequency electromagnetic fields as possibly carcinogenic to humans. based on an increased risk for glioma, a malignant type of brain cancer1, associated with wireless phone use.

Dr Jonathan Samet (University of Southern California, USA), overall Chairman of the Working Group, 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."

The report is a change in thinking for an organization that previously said there were no adverse health effects from the use of cell phones.

According to the report, the decision is based on the judgment of a group of 31 scientists from 14 countries including the United States who reviewed a collection of the latest research while in France earlier this month.

In the report, WHO recommends that users limit their exposure to such radiation if possible, though also said more research is needed to verify an absolute link between cell phone use and cancer (the scientists also studied occupation exposure to radar and microwaves as well as environmental exposure to radio, TV and wireless communications signals.

However, results released last year from a 10-year, $24 million study by WHO on a possible link between cell phone use and cancer were inconclusive, according to reports.

It is estimated that some 5 billion cell phones is currently in use worldwide.

"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. "

Meanwhile, the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association (CTIA) refuted the report, saying that "bias and other data flaws" may be the basis of the latest WHO/IARC conclusion.

"Today, an International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) working group in Lyon, France categorized radiofrequency fields from cellphones as 'possibly' carcinogenic based on 'limited evidence.' IARC conducts numerous reviews and in the past has given the same score to, for example, 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.



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Anil Giri serves as Kathmandu Correspondent for The Seoul Times.As a journalist he has worked for such news media as Annapurna Post, BBC, and Himalayan Times for years. He finished his both undergrad Economics degree and his MA degree in English Literature at Tribhuvan Univ., Kathmandu. He also holds a diploma in Development Journalism from prestigious Indian Institute of Mass Communication-IIMC, New Delhi, India.

 

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