“We need to rush this since our website is out of date.” 

Email dated June 1, 2011 at 12:55 


WHO has classified radiofrequency from cell phones as a possible cause of some brain cancers

  • WHO’s international agency for research on Cancer by IARC  asked 40 experts scientists to review current research about the possible health effects of cell phone use. 
  • These experts found that recent studies suggest a possible link between long-term high cell phone use, glioma and acoustic neuroma. 
  • The IARC recommends further research to provide more definitive information about this possible link. 

Dr. Chris Porter NCEH/ATSDR Director was a member of the expert review panel. 

  • Dr. Portier chaired the review of the mechanistic evidence. 
  • Dr. Portier agrees with his fellow panel members -more research is needed to understand the possible link between cell phones and cancer

Questions about the report should be directed to the IARC 

Questions about US regulatory policy for cell phones should be directed to FDA and FCC


What is a cell phone? How does it work? 

A cell phone is a portable phone that uses a network of base stations or fixed antennas that allows users to call from almost any location. These phones send and receive radiofrequency signals to and from the base station. Base station antennas are mounted on towers but can also sit on rooftops, water towers, power poles and other tall structures. All cell phones are tested according to government standards and cannot be marketed or sold unless they have passed these standards. More information about these standards and test information for specific phone models is available at the Federal Communications Commission website. 

What is our RF?

Electromagnetic radiation consists of waves of electric and magnetic energy moving together (radiating) through space. Radio waves and microwaves released by transmitting antennas are one form of electromagnetic energy. They are called radiofrequency or RF energy or radiation. Often the term “electromagnetic field” or “radiofrequency field” is used to indicate the presence of electromagnetic or RF  energy.

RF radiation should not be confused with ionizing radiation such as x-rays or gamma rays. RF fields have a lower energy and therefore cannot cause ionization (potentially resulting in chemical changes) in the body. RF fields are non-ionizing radiation.

What is non-ionizing radiation?

Non-ionizing radiation has lower energy and longer wavelength than ionizing radiation. It is not strong enough to change the structure of atoms it contacts but may be strong enough to heat tissue. Examples include radio waves, microwaves, visible light, and infrared,

What is ELF radiation?

Another type of non-ionizing electromagnetic radiation is emitted by electric current (such as overhead power lines or anything else with electricity flowing through it). This type of electromagnetic radiation is extremely low-frequency (ELF). RF radiation is much higher frequency than ELF radiation even though they are both non-ionizing.

Does using a cell phone cause health problems? Can using one cause cancer?

In the last 15 years hundreds of new research studies have been done to study possible health problems linked to cell phone use. Some of these studies have suggested the possibility that long-term, high cell phone use may be linked to certain types of brain cancer. These studies do not definitively establish this link. Scientists will need to conduct more studies to learn about this possible risk.

In addition to investigating the association of cell phone use and cancer, many researchers including the World Health Organization are studying other health effects including the effects on the eyes, sleep and memory problems and headaches. The study agenda can be accessed at the following WHO website.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has reported one additional potential health effect. 

Studies have shown that when some cellular phones are placed very close to implanted cardiac pacemakers, interference with the pacemaker’s normal delivery of pulses can occur for most digital phones, and for most pacemakers now in use, this does not have an effect if the phone is more than about 6 inches from the implanted pacemaker. Thus the operation of these pacemakers would not be disturbed with the phone used in the normal talking position.

The FDA has additional information on this topic with respect to RF exposure from mobile phones. 

Do cordless telephones emit radiation?

Cordless telephones work the same as cell phones. The only difference is that the cordless phone is limited to being close to the single base unit to which it belongs, while a cell phone can be carried around all across the country because it can connect to the many base stations available for that cell phone system.  Added June 3, 2011 Scientists can not yet provide specific estimates comparing the risks of using cordless telephones to the risks of using cell phones. 


What new information caused the IARC to change its position?

The IARC Monograph Working Group discussed and evaluated available literature involving radiofrequency electromagnetic fields. The evidence was reviewed and evaluated as being limited among users of wireless telephones for glioma (a type of brain cancer) and acoustic neuroma (a benign tumor on the nerve that connects the ear to the brain. The evidence was considered inadequate to draw conclusions for other types of cancers. The limited evidence of carcinogenicity is based on a positive association between exposure to RF and the occurrence of glioma in the Interphone international case-control study. Limited evidence suggests that the findings are credible but chance, bias or confounding could not be ruled out with reasonable confidence.

How likely is it that a cell phone user will develop a glioma or acoustic neuroma?

The recent studies suggest a possible link between these tumors and radiofrequency from cell phones. More research is needed to establish this link conclusively and to quantify these potential health risks. 

How lethal are these types of cancer?

People who are diagnosed with glioma (a type of brain cancer) usually live fewer than five years. Acoustic neuroma is not a cancer. It is attached to the acoustic nerve and although it may grow in size, does not spread to other parts of the body. These growths most commonly cause and abnormal sensation of movement and/or  hearing loss

Are children at greater risk from cell phone use? 

We are not aware of any study that has look specifically at how radiofrequency exposure might affect children. We do know that children who start using cell phones early in life will probably be exposed to radiofrequency for longer periods during their lifetimes.

Should  people stop using cell phones?

Cell phones do have the potential to save time and even to save lives. At the same time, the use of cell phones may carry some risks. These risks are likely comparable to other lifestyle choices we make every day.

How can people reduce their exposure? 

Functions that allow cell phone users to operate their phones at a distance such as a hands-free option, may reduce exposure to radiofrequency. Added June 3, 2011  These precautions include the use of a hands-free headset directly connected to the cell phone, the speaker phone function, and carrying the phone at least one inch away from the body. 

Does using Bluetooth technology reduce the possible health effects? 

We are not aware of any study that has look at the possible effects of using Bluetooth technology to limit radiofrequency exposure. Added June 1, 2011 Bluetooth technology does emit radiofrequency radiation, thus it also may carry some risk of exposure. A hands-free headset directly connected to the cell phone does not rely on RF radiation; therefore, it likely would pose less risk.

Are some phones cell phones safer than others? 

We are not aware of any study that has looked at the possibility that different cell phones may lead to different levels of radiofrequency exposure. Added June 1, 2011 Different models of phones do vary in the level of RF radiation exposure; so it is possible that risks of adverse health effects also may vary. 

Can manufacturers make cell phone technology safer? 

We are not aware of any study that has looked at the possibility of modifying cell phone technology to reduce radiofrequency exposure.

What is the federal government going to do about these findings?

FDA and FCC have regulatory authority over cell phone in the United States. Questions about potential regulatory implications of the new research findings should be directed to those agencies. 

When will the IARC Report be released?
While the final IARC report  will not be released until 2012, the IARC intends to publish its preliminary findings in the journal Lancet in the next few months.

https://ehtrust.org/cdc-drafted-media-talking-points-on-cell-phone-radiation-and-cancer-in-2011/ Source: Environmental Health Trust