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Jun 10, 2011

Cell Phones and Link to Brain Cancer

Until last Tuesday, the World Health Organization (WHO) had claimed that cell phones were safe for use.  But a recent panel of experts reported to the WHO that cell phones may cause brain cancer in humans.  The experts concluded from available research that wireless phone use increases risk for a malignant form of brain cancer known as glioma.  Cell phones are now classified as “possibly carcinogenic to humans” and fall into the same category as things like DDT (pesticide) and exhaust from gasoline engines.  

Approximately 5 billion cell phones are estimated to be in operation worldwide.  With growing numbers of young adults and children now using cell phones, this matter is even more alarming since young people are more vulnerable to effects of radiation.  

"Children's skulls and scalps are thinner. So the radiation can penetrate deeper into the brain of children and young adults. Their cells are dividing at a faster rate, so the impact of radiation can be much larger," said Dr. Keith Black, chairman of neurology at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. 

Some representatives of the wireless industry continue to deny there is any real concern.  John Walls, vice president of public affairs for CTIA-The Wireless Association, concluded that “there’s no scientific evidence that proves that wireless phone usage can lead to cancer.”

With some conflicting results of past and current research, more studies are clearly needed to verify the safety of cell phone usage, both in the short and long term.  Until the safety profile of cell phones is better understood, it only makes sense to err on the side of caution.  Now that cell phones and other handy electronic devices have become such integral parts of our daily lives, it seems unreasonable to suggest that most people stop using them.  However, it does make sense to a)  limit the amount of time spent talking on cell phones as much as possible, b)  use the speaker phone when you can to increase distance between your body and the phone, thus reducing intensity of potential radiation exposure, and c)  dissuade children and young adults from using cell phones until their brains and skulls are more fully developed.  

Dr. Shana McQueen