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  1. #1
    Mid
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    International Agency for Research on Cancer : Mobile phones

    Mobile phones could cause cancer
    Maria Cheng
    1st June 2011


    AAP


    A RESPECTED international panel of experts says mobile phones are possible cancer-causing agents, putting them in the same category as the pesticide DDT, petrol engine exhaust and coffee.

    The classification was issued in Lyon, France, by the International Agency for Research on Cancer after a review of dozens of published studies. The agency is an arm of the World Health Organisation and its assessment now goes to WHO and national health agencies for possible guidance on cellphone use.

    Classifying agents as "possibly carcinogenic" doesn't mean they automatically cause cancer and some experts said the ruling shouldn't change people's mobile phone habits.

    "Anything is a possible carcinogen," said Donald Berry, a professor of biostatistics at the MD Anderson Cancer Center at the University of Texas. He was not linked to the WHO cancer group. "This is not something I worry about and it will not in any way change how I use my cellphone," he said - from his mobile phone.

    After a week-long meeting, the expert panel said there was limited evidence mobile phone use was linked to two types of brain tumours and inadequate evidence to draw conclusions for other cancers.

    "We found some threads of evidence telling us how cancers might occur, but there were acknowledged gaps and uncertainties," said Jonathan Samet, the panel's chairman.

    "The WHO's verdict means there is some evidence linking mobile phones to cancer but it is too weak to draw strong conclusions from," said Ed Yong, head of health information at Cancer Research UK "If such a link exists, it is unlikely to be a large one."

    Last year, results of a large study found no clear link between mobiles and cancer. But some advocacy groups contend the study raised serious concerns because it showed a hint of a possible connection between very heavy phone use and glioma, a rare but often deadly form of brain tumour. However, the numbers in that subgroup weren't sufficient to make the case.

    The study was controversial because it began with people who already had cancer and asked them to recall how often they used their mobiles more than a decade ago.

    In about 30 other studies done in Europe, New Zealand and the US, patients with brain tumours have not reported using their cellphone's more often than unaffected people.

    Because mobile phone's are so popular, it may be impossible for experts to compare mobile phone users who develop brain tumours with people who don't use the devices. According to a survey last year, the number of mobile phone subscribers worldwide has hit five billion, or nearly three-quarters of the global population.

    People's mobile phone habits have also changed dramatically since the first studies began years ago and it's unclear if the results of previous research would still apply today.

    Since many cancerous tumours take decades to develop, experts say it's impossible to conclude mobile phones have no long-term health risks. The studies conducted so far haven't tracked people for longer than about a decade.

    Mobile phones send signals to nearby towers via radio frequency waves, a form of energy similar to FM radio waves and microwaves. But the radiation produced by mobile phones cannot directly damage DNA and is different from stronger types of radiation like X-rays or ultraviolet light. At very high levels, radio frequency waves from mobile phones can heat up body tissue, but that is not believed to damage human cells.

    Some experts recommended people use a headset or earpiece if they are worried about the possible health dangers of mobile phones. "If there is a risk, most of it goes away with a wireless earpiece," said Otis Brawley, chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society.

    Brawley said people should focus on the real health hazards of mobile phones. "Cellphones may cause brain tumours but they kill far more people through automobile accidents," he said. Brawley added it was also reasonable to limit children's use of mobile phones since their brains are still developing.

    Earlier this year, a US National Institutes of Health study found that mobile phone use can speed up brain activity, but it is unknown whether that has any dangerous health effects.

    In the US, the Food and Drug Administration and the Federal Communications Commission have found no evidence mobile phones are linked to cancer.

    thereporter.com.au

  2. #2
    Neo
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    This is interesting. It seemed obvious that early fears for potential health hazards were down played in the face of commercial interests.

    There is very little conclusive data that high frequency waves do cause health problems, because the exposure rates have only become significant within the past 15-20 years.

    The WHO introduced guidelines for further research last year, and it will be in the next 5-20 years that the effects of high level exposure will become apparent. This would suggest that a group working within those guidelines has already found some tangible evidence of health concerns.
    Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming "Wow! What a Ride!"

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neo View Post
    The WHO introduced guidelines for further research last year, and it will be in the next 5-20 years that the effects of high level exposure will become apparent. This would suggest that a group working within those guidelines has already found some tangible evidence of health concerns.
    I think that is a jump too far. There is a fair amount of "public" hooha about a possible link between brain cancer and mobiles -and its not unreasonable that a group would investigate this, and guidlines be set for the studies so that solid data can be generated to either prove or disprove.

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