As if I didn’t already hate cell phones… Now, there’s even more to dislike. Today, the World Health Organization (WHO) and International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), have officially classified radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (the very same frequency used by cell phones) as, “Possibly carcinogenic to humans, based on an increased risk for glioma, a malignant type of brain cancer, associated with wireless phone use.” Glioma, by the way, is a particularly nasty and aggressive form of brain cancer that’s very hard to treat.
This is a switch for WHO, who have frequently touted cell phones as safe. Why the change of heart? According to CNN, a team of 31 scientists from 14 countries, including the USA reviewed a bunch of peer-reviewed studies on cell phone safety, and found enough negative evidence to cause concern. In general, there’s not enough evidence to say, “Hey, your cell phone will kill you where you stand,” but there is enough of a connection between cell phones and cancer to say that you should be pretty darn concerned about your cell phone use, and more importantly, your kid’s cell phone use.
- I’ve written about a related issue before at Inhabitots – iPhones and Cell Phones May Have Potentially Deadly Side Effects for Kids
One of the biggest issues I have with cell phone use (beyond how annoying they are) is that there haven’t been any long term studies done on kids and cell phones. Cell phones really, in the grand scheme of things, haven’t been around very long. We can’t know if they may be causing damage or not, yet moderation and cell phone use is RARELY seen – at least rarely seen by me.
Dr. Keith Black, chairman of neurology at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, tells CNN:
“The biggest problem we have is that we know most environmental factors take several decades of exposure before we really see the consequences… Childrens’ skulls and scalps are thinner. So the [cell phone] radiation can penetrate deeper into the brain of children and young adults. Their cells are dividing faster rate, so the impact of radiation can be much larger.“
Should you ditch your cell phone? The new report doesn’t go that far. IARC Director Christopher Wild does note, “It is important that additional research be conducted into the longterm, 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. ”
I’m not too worried, but then I truly dislike cell phones and almost never use mine. I also don’t allow my son to have a cell phone, and he only uses mine rarely. I think they cut people off from other people, cause major distractions among people who shouldn’t be distracted (think driving), and in general, are just hyper annoying. People sit with their faces stuck in their cell phone even when it’s rude to do so; like at dinner or when hanging out.
It’s funny, because recently, I was considering getting rid of my cell altogether and switching back to a land-line. Now that this report is out, maybe I’ll rethink that. Obviously, this is a much longer discussion though, so for now I’m signing off.
A concise report summarizing the main conclusions of the IARC Working Group and the evaluations of the carcinogenic hazard from radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (including the use of mobile telephones) will be published in The Lancet Oncology in its July 1 issue. For now you can take a look at the first WHO report (pdf).
What do you think of this new development? How often do you allow your kids to use your cell (or their own cell)?
[Photo © Flickr user atomicjeep]