Are Cell Phones Dangerous?

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New Assessment from International Research Group Says Cell Phones May Be Carcinogenic to Humans

A leading international group of researchers now says that cell phones may be carcinogenic to humans. The group, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), just completed a meeting from May 24 to 31, 2011, in which they reviewed dozens of studies focusing on the relationship between use of cell phones, cancer, and brain tumors. Some of those studies focused specifically on the relationship between use of cell phones and gliomas (a malignant type of brain tumor). 

The IARC researchers agreed that there may be a connection between higher rates of cancer and a form of electromagnetic radiation released from cell phones, and have now classified cell phones in Category 2B, a category reserved for materials that may possibly be carcinogenic to humans. Examples of other Category 2B materials include gasoline and napthalene (the traditional ingredient in mothballs).

IARC, which is part of the World Health Organization, published their statement on Tuesday, May 31, 2011, in Lyon, France. IARC’s assessment that cell phones may be associated with higher rates of cancer and brain tumors in humans will now be reviewed by WHO and various national health agencies throughout the world for further decisions and health guidance.

IARC’s assessment is not without its retractors, however. Many researchers question the validity of studies that focused on the relationship between cell phone usage and cancer rates. A major study completed in 2010, for example, looked only at people who already had cancer and asked them how heavily they used their cell phones. Other studies, retractors claim, have not shown that patients with brain tumors reported significantly more use of their cell phones than people who did not have brain tumors.

More Information

What are brain tumors?

Brain tumors are tumors that start in the brain and directly destroy brain cells. Brain tumors can also damage cells by creating inflammation that places pressure on various parts of the brain and increasing pressure within the skull. Possible risk factors for brain tumors include radiation therapy to the brain and some types of inherited health conditions (such as neurofibromatosis, Von Hippel-Lindau syndrome, Li-Fraumeni syndrome, and Turcot syndrome). 

Recent Studies About Brain Tumors at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center

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Last Updated: 08-25-2014
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