In a shocking turn of events this afternoon, the World Heath Organization (WHO) released a report indicting cell phones as a carcinogenic risk-factor. With the number of mobile phone subscriptions estimated at just over 5 billion globally, it looks as though the majority of the global population is now at an increased risk. The report comes on the heels of a week-long conference (May 24-31) held in Lyon, France which saw 31 internationally reputed scientists from fourteen countries gather to assess “possible carcinogenic hazards from exposure to radio-frequency electromagnetic fields [the kind your cell phone creates].”
The conclusions reached at the conference were largely based on the results of one study of past cell phone use (up to the year 2004), which showed a 40% increased risk for gliomas [brain tumors] in the highest category of heavy users (reported average: 30 minutes per day over a 10‐year period). Though somewhat preliminary, the conference concluded that the risks posed by cell phone use were dangerous enough to warrant a “2B classification” of cancer risk, placing cell phones in the same carcinogenic risk category as lead and chloroform. The report urges increased precaution among users due to the relative novelty of cell phones, and the concurrent lack of long-term data on the effects of cell phone use.
According to Dr. Jonathan Samet, overall chairman of the internationally commissioned working group:
“the evidence, while still accumulating, is strong enough to support a conclusion and the 2B classification. The conclusion means that there could be some risk, and therefore we need to keep a close watch for a link between cell phones and cancer risk.”
According to WHO definitions, Group 2 (which now includes cell phones), is a category that includes “agents for which, the degree of evidence for carcinogenicity in humans is almost sufficient…” Group 2B, the particular group in which cell phones were placed, is defined as a group in which agents are “possibly carcinogenic to humans.” While results from further studies will need to corroborate the WHOs report, the markets response may be more volatile as fear becomes the major head line.