Cell Phones Pose Possible Cancer Risk: World Health Organization

  • Written by: Staff Writers

An international panel of scientific experts have decided that cell phones should be considered a possible cause of brain cancer and have expressed concern about their widespread use, particularly among young adults and children. 

The World Health Organization (WHO) issued a press release [PDF] last week announcing that its International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) was classifying radiofrequency electromagnetic fields emitted by wireless phones as a possible carcinogen. The determination comes after years of research and debate over whether cell phones can cause cancer.

The announcement came as a working group of 31 scientists from around the world met this week in Lyons, France, to determine whether cell phone emissions could cause cancer. They have determined that there is an increased risk of glioma, a malignant type of brain cancer, that appears to be linked to cell phone use.

While the working group did not provide a numerical risk for glioma from cell phone use, it did note that at least one previous study found a 40% increased risk of brain cancer among cell phone users who talked on their mobile phones for at least 30 minutes per day for 10 years. The IARC working group reportedly looked at hundreds of scientific articles before making its determination.

The working group’s report will be published in the July 1 issue of The Lancet Oncology.

There are more than 5 billion cell phone subscriptions across the planet, WHO warned, and they are heavily used by children and young adults. That number is steadily growing.

In the U.S. in recent years the National Cancer Institute (NCI) has reported that scientific evidence about the risk or safety of cell phones is conflicting and inconsistent, and that no conclusion could be made.

According to NCI, cellular telephones emit radiofrequency (RF) energy. RF energy is a form of non-ionizing electromagnetic radiation. Ionizing electromagnetic radiation, such as that emitted by x-ray machines, is known to cause cancer at high levels, but it is unknown whether non-ionizing electromagnetic radiation like RF energy has the same effect. The NCI says that studies so far seem to indicate that the amount of RF emitted by cell phone hand units is too low to result in tissue heating or raise body temperature, but there is not enough evidence to declare it completely harmless either.

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  1. katy Reply

    My life has been changed by my brain tumor called Acoustic Neuroma – My frequent cell phone use since the 90’s has come back to haunt me – My phone would get hot to the touch and I would get a localized headache from being on the phone to my ear for hrs at a time – I would have to hang up since my head hurt so much – 2010 I was diagnosed with the Acoustic Neuroma, I have a 1cm tumor that causes ringing in my ear – I am almost completely deaf in that ear, and have vertigo so bad I can’t work- $73,000 gamma knife was the treatment but we must follow up every 6mo – I am over 100% sure the cell phone radio frequency did this to me – I still get pains in the same spot above my left ear- I have lost thousands of dollars from loss of work- this will continue to happen to the billions of people since the cell phones are still above the recommended radio frequency and no warnings are posted. Had I been warned this would not have happened!

  2. drnamita Reply

    If mobile causes brain tumours then why has not the incidence rate increased eversince the use of mobile phone for last 20 years?

  3. AnonymousOne Reply


    Because no looked inside the brains of people who use cell phones, to see if there are changes in the brain, they have to be monitored.

    Only in the last 10 years or less, people have been using cell phones heavily and regularly, because the costs have come down from 20 years ago.

    Ten plus more years will prove one way or another.

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