WHO Links Cell Phones to Cancer: Are You Worried?
Another day, another exposure risk exposed. While the link between brain cancer and cell phones is not new, CNN and others are now reporting that the World Health Organization (WHO) officially filed cell phones as a “carcinogenic hazard” yesterday—that’s the same category that features lead, engine exhaust and chloroform. From CNN:
Before its announcement Tuesday, WHO had assured consumers that no adverse health effects had been established.
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.”
The piece goes onto explain that cell phone radiation is similar to microwave radiation. As Doctor Keith Black, chairman of neurology at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center put it:
“What microwave radiation does in most simplistic terms is similar to what happens to food in microwaves, essentially cooking the brain. 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.”
Of course, like all longterm exposure risks (we can think of some others), this stuff is very hard to study. Brain cancer itself can take years and years to develop, so pinpointing causes is tough. What we do know is that results from the largest study to date found that people who’d been using cell phones for more than ten years were twice as likely to have brain glioma, which is a type of tumor. Not exactly negligible results.
Are you concerned about cell phone use and cancer or other possible side effects? If so, what steps have you taken to minimize your exposure? I try to use my landline or a headset, but I often forget. I also got my first cell phone in 1999—that’s a whole 12 years ago now, which isn’t awesome. Do you remember when you got yours?