As reported by CNN Health WHO: Cell Phone Use Can Increase Possible Cancer Risk by Danielle Dellorto (5/11)
Radiation from cell phones can possibly cause cancer, according to the World
Health Organization. The agency now lists mobile phone use in the same
"carcinogenic hazard" category as lead, engine exhaust and chloroform.Before
its announcement, WHO had assured consumers that no adverse health effects had
A team of 31 scientists from 14 countries, including the United States, made the
decision after reviewing peer-reviewed studies on cell phone safety. The team
found enough evidence to categorize personal exposure as "possibly carcinogenic
to humans."What that means is 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 biggest problem we have
is that we know most environmental factors take several decades of exposure
before we really see the consequences," said Dr. Keith Black, chairman of
neurology at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.
The type of radiation coming out of a cell phone is called non-ionizing. It is
not like an X-ray, but more like a very low-powered microwave oven. "What
microwave radiation does in most simplistic terms is similar to what happens to
food in microwaves, essentially cooking the brain," Black said. "So in addition
to leading to a development of cancer and tumors, there could be a whole host
of other effects like cognitive memory function, since the memory temporal
lobes are where we hold our cell phones."
Wireless industry responded to the announcement saying it "does not mean cell
phones cause cancer." CTIA-The Wireless Association added that WHO researchers
"did not conduct any new research, but rather reviewed published studies." The
European Environmental Agency has pushed for more studies, saying cell phones
could be as big a public health risk as smoking, asbestos and leaded gasoline.
The head of a prominent cancer-research institute at the University of
Pittsburgh sent a memo to all employees urging them to limit cell phone use
because of a possible risk of cancer. "When you look at cancer development --
particularly brain cancer -- it takes a long time to develop. I think it is a
good idea to give the public some sort of warning that long-term exposure to
radiation from your cell phone could possibly cause cancer," said Dr. Henry
Lai, research professor in bioengineering at University of Washington who has
studied radiation for more than 30 years.
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 brain glioma, a type of tumor. To
date, there have been no long-term studies on the effects of cell phone usage
among children. "Children's skulls and scalps are thinner. So the radiation can
penetrate deeper into the brain of children and young adults. Their cells are
at a dividing faster rate, so the impact of radiation can be much larger." said
Black of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.
In February, a study by researchers at the National Institutes of Health,
revealed 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. Neurosurgeon and CNN chief medical correspondent
Dr. Sanjay Gupta says WHO's announcement, "dealt a blow to those who have long
said, 'There is no possible mechanism for cell phones to cause cancer.' By
classifying cell phones as a possible carcinogen, they also seem to be tacitly
admitting a mechanism could exist."
Manufacturers of many popular cell phones already warn consumers to keep their
device away from their body and medical experts say there other ways to
minimize cell phone radiation. The logic behind such recommendations is that
the further the phone is from the body, the less radiation is absorbed. Users
can also use the speakerphone function or a wired earpiece to gain some
distance. Users can text instead of talk if they want to keep the phone away
from their faces.
Finally, cell phones emit the most radiation when they are attempting to connect
to cellular towers. A moving phone, or a phone in an area with a weak signal,
has to work harder, giving of more radiation. So users can avoid using their
cell phones in elevators, buildings and rural areas if they want to reduce
their exposure, experts say.
Wireless Phones Found To Affect The Brain
A study at Örebro University in Sweden indicates that mobile phones and other cordless
telephones have a biological effect on the brain. It is still too early to say
if any health risks are involved, but medical researcher Fredrik Söderqvist recommends caution in the use of these phones, above all among children
and adolescents. Few children who regularly use mobile phones use a headset
often or always, even though the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority recommends
this. "Children may be more sensitive than adults to radiation from wireless
phones," says Fredrik Söderqvist, who is presenting his research findings in a new doctoral thesis at Örebro University.
On the one hand, he examined the use of wireless telephones among children and
adolescents, on the other hand, whether adolescents themselves perceive any
health problems that might be related to this use. He then went on to study
blood samples from adults, looking at two so-called biomarkers to see whether
wireless phone use has a biological effect on the brain. One of these studies
focused on a protein that exists in the so-called blood-cerebrospinal-fluid
barrier, which is part of the brain's protection against outside influences.
The study revealed an association between use of wireless telephony and
increased content of the protein transthyretin in the blood.
Fredrik Söderqvist stresses that the increase as such does not have to be a cause of
concern, but since it indicates that the brain is in fact affected by
microwaves from wireless telephones, there may be other -- as yet unknown --
effects that may impact our health. "We should all follow the recommendations
of the Radiation Safety Authority when it comes to using headsets and avoiding
mobile phone use when the coverage is poor."
The study also shows that users themselves experience health problems that may
be caused by wireless telephones. Children and adolescents who regularly use
wireless telephones more often reported various health symptoms and graded
their well-being lower than those who do not use them regularly. According to
Fredrik Söderqvist, it is not possible to draw any conclusions about what is cause and
effect on the basis of this study, but he feels that it is urgent to examine
this association more closely. "The connection was strongest regarding
headaches, asthmatic complaints, and impaired concentration. But more research
is needed to exclude the effects of other factors and sources of error, even
though it is difficult to see how this connection could be fully explained by
Today nearly all children from the age of 7 have access to a wireless telephone,
but usage takes off only around the age of 12, and more than 80 percent of all
19-year-olds use mobile phones regularly. At the same time, the study shows
that fewer than two percent of the children and adolescents use a headset often
or always. "This is worrisome, since the possible health effects from long-term
exposure to microwaves have not been clarified, especially among children and
adolescents. The threshold values in place today protect us from warming, a
so-called thermal effect. But if there are mechanisms that are independent of
warming, it is not certain that today's thresholds provide protection. And it
may be that these are effects that will not be perceived until later on in the
future," says Fredrik Söerqvist.
As reported in ScienceDaily (11/09) Wireless Phones Can Affect The Brain, Swedish Study Suggests