Study: Cell Phones Possibly Carcinogenic


A warning about cell phones and cancer in 11 for Health.

New research from the World Health Organization says cell phones could be as big a public health risk as abestos and smoking.

It's been an ongoing debate for years over one of the most used modern convenience: whether cell phones cause cancer. After reviewing links between cancer and electromagnetic radiation associated with cell phones, microwaves and radars, experts now say cellphones might be carcinogenic to humans. A panel of experts with the International Agency of Research on Cancer (IARC), WHO's cancer arm, have now classified cell phones in category 2B, at category which includes gasoline engine exhaust and the pesticide DDT.

Previous studies showed no link between cell phones and cancer, although a large international study conducted in 2010 showed a hint of a possible connection between heavy cellphone use and a rare form of brain tumor. The study was controversial because it began with people who already had cancer, and asked them to recall how often they used their cellphones more than a decade ago.

Despite results from the latest research, announced Tuesday, experts say that it may be difficult to either definitively determine a link between cell use and cancer, or rule out any long-term health risks. With nearly three-fourths of the world reportedly using cell phones, it may be impossible for experts to pinpoint cell use as a cancer cause in people that develop brain tumors versus those who don't. Cancerous tumors can also take decades to develop, which experts say make it impossible to conclude long-term risks at this time. The IARC also used dozens of published studies for their own research, which could be outdated, as cell phone habits have changed dramatically over time, particularly with the rise of texting. It's unclear if results of previous research would still apply today.

Cell 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 cellphones 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 cellphones can heat up body tissue, but that is not believed to damage human cells.

Experts say to reduce possible exposure, you should limit time on cell phones, use speaker mode or use a headset. It's important to remember that brain cancer is fairly rare; doctors say even if the risk is doubled by cell phone use, it would only mean 12 people per 100,000 would get it.

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