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Sunday, June 5, 2011

Cell Phones Might Cause Brain Cancer- IARC Exper panel

Expert Panel: Cell Phones Might Cause Brain Cancer

Expert Panel: Cell Phones Might Cause Brain Cancer

'Limited Evidence' Suggests Cell Phones 'Possibly Carcinogenic'
By Daniel J. DeNoon
WebMD Health News
xray of person holding phone up to head

May 31, 2011 -- The expert panel that evaluates cancer risks today said that cell phones might possibly cause brain cancer.

The announcement comes from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). Like the World Health Organization, the American Cancer Society relies on IARC for evaluation of cancer risks.

"After reviewing all the evidence available, the IARC working group classified radiofrequency electromagnetic fields as possibly carcinogenic to humans," panel chairman Jonathan Samet, MD, chair of preventive medicine at the USC Keck School of Medicine, said at a news teleconference. "We reached this conclusion based on a review of human evidence showing increased risk of glioma, a malignant type of brain cancer, in association with wireless phone use."

In finding cell phones to be "possibly carcinogenic," the IARC means that heavy cell phone use might -- or might not -- cause a specific form of brain cancer called glioma. The finding means that research is urgently needed to find out whether cell phones actually cause cancer, and how they might do it.

The IARC estimates that some 5 billion people worldwide have mobile phones. Lifetime exposure to the magnetic fields created by the phones -- particularly when they are held tightly against the head -- rapidly is increasing.

Children are at particular risk, not only because their skulls are thinner but also because their lifetime exposure to cell phones likely will be greater than the exposure of current adults.

Putting Possible Cancer Risk in Perspective

It's important to put the possible risk into context. Kurt Straif, MD, PhD, MPH, head of the IARC Monographs Program, notes that the IARC currently lists some 240 agents as "possibly carcinogenic," including dry cleaning fluid and some commonly used pesticides.

While the IARC doesn't make recommendations to consumers, Straif noted that there are precautions people can take.

"Some of the highest exposures come from using mobile phones for voice calls. If you text, or use hands-free devices, you lower exposure by at least [10-fold]," Straif said at the news conference. "So this is left to consumers to consider whether this level of evidence is enough for them to take such precautions."

Otis W. Brawley, MD, chief medical officer for the American Cancer Society, notes that the IARC is a highly credible group. But Brawley echoes Straif's advice: People who are worried can reduce their risk.

"On the other hand, if someone is of the opinion that the absence of strong scientific evidence on the harms of cell phone use is reassuring, they may take different actions, and it would be hard to criticize that," Brawley says in a news release.

John Walls, vice president for public affairs at CTIA, the trade group representing the wireless communications industry, notes that the IARC findings do not mean cell phones cause cancer -- and that the limited evidence on which the findings are based are far from conclusive.

"Based on previous assessments of the scientific evidence, the Federal Communications Commission has concluded that '[t]here’s no scientific evidence that proves that wireless phone usage can lead to cancer.' The Food and Drug Administration has also stated that '[t]he weight of scientific evidence has not linked cell phones with any health problems,'" Walls notes in a news release.

Samet and colleagues will publish a summary of their findings in the July 1 issue of The Lancet, which is still in press.

Cell phones linked to cancer - WHO

Cell phones linked to cancer   
Sunday, 05 June 2011 11:44

By Sound Living Reporter
That buzzing, clicking, hissing or popping sound during a mobile phone call may cause brain cancer.The World Health Organisation research institute says receiving calls on your mobile over a prolonged period could lead to a form of brain cancer known as glioma.

Lead researcher Dr Jonathan Samet of the University of Southern California said there was evidence linking radio frequency fields on phones and their base stations to brain cancer.

The research was based on an increased risk for glioma, a malignant brain cancer associated with wireless phone use.“The conclusion means there could be some risk, and therefore we need to keep a close watch for a link between cell phones and cancer risk,” said Dr Samet.

Sparking debate
Over the years, scientists have released new findings periodically, sparking debate for and against the gadgets, but the current research by WHO could affect the lifestyle of five billion subscribers globally.The global health body advised consumers to switch to text messaging and use of the hands-free option to reduce exposure.

Past studies that suggest a risk have indicated that tumours tend to occur on the same side of the head where the patient typically holds the phone.

Over the years, WHO is on record for dismissing studies linking radio frequency to cancer, saying they are inconclusive and do not support the hypothesis that exposure causes or influences cancer.

However, it has acknowledged particular findings that have linked mobile phone use to altered brain and body activity, including risks like leukaemia and brain tumours and has outlined a number of safety measures.
The WHO/International Agency for Research on Cancer classified radio frequency electromagnetic fields as possible cancer-causing agents and classified it as Group 2B.

A glioma is a type of tumour that starts in the brain or spine. A brain glioma can cause headaches, nausea and vomiting, seizures and cranial nerve disorders as a result of increased intracranial pressure.

The WHO research is corroborated by a survey early last month by the US National Institute of Health that found that less than an hour of cell phone use can speed up brain activity in the area closest to the phone antenna and this, they say, may cause health problems.

The study, published last month in The Journal of the American Medical Association, says the weak radio-frequency signals from cell phones have the potential to alter brain and body activity.

The researchers, led by Nora D. Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, established considerable changes in brain activity among 47 individuals involved in the study through brain scan.


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