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Coming shortly on the heels of an announcement by the WHO International Agency for Research on Cancer classifying cell phones as possibly carcinogenic to humans, yet another scientific paper has debunked the link between mobile phone use and brain tumors.
The paper by Britain's Institute of Cancer Research and presented in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives states that there are no established biological mechanisms by which radio signals from mobile phones might trigger tumors. A committee of experts from Britain, the United States and Sweden reviewed all the major previously published researches in this field and came to the conclusion that there is no convincing evidence in support of cancer connection of cell phones. There have been several studies in this regard, the largest of which was the “13 country Interphone study”, published last year. It examined 13,000 mobile phone users and kept a track of them for 10 years. There were problems with the methodology followed in the study and it could not through up any positive evidence between the use of mobile phones and brain tumors.


There are more than 5 billion mobile phone users today and there have been constant speculations about increased usage of mobile phones leading to brain tumors like meningioma and glioma.

According to Anthony Swerdlow, who led this review, there have been many other studies in this field but none could establish a link between cell phones and brain cancer even 20 years after the introduction of mobile phones and 10 years after their use became widespread.

Different Agencies have a Conflicting Take on this Issue

The radio waves emitted by cell phone are a form of non-ionizing radiation and are absorbed by the tissue next to the phone. Some people claim that this radiofrequency energy which is absorbed by the brain tissue can lead to the development of tumors like meningioma and glioma.

Different agencies have a conflicting take on this issue. The International Agency of Research on Cancer, a component of WHO has recently classified cell phones as “possibly carcinogenic to humans.”The American Cancer Society states that there is no conclusive evidence to prove the link between cell phone usage and brain cancer. It however, encourages more research in this particular field. According to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), the weight of the current scientific evidence has not conclusively linked cell phones with any adverse health problems, but more research is needed. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) notes that studies reporting biological changes associated with radiofrequency energy have failed to be replicated and most of the human epidemiological studies do not show any link between cell phone usage and brain tumors. According to the U.S. centers for Disease Control and Prevention, though some studies raise concern, the majority do not establish any link. The Federal Communications Commission dismisses the connection between the two completely.

Thus, there still remains a lot of confusion in this field and until the matter is finally settles, exercising caution is the best way to go.

  • National Cancer Institute Factsheet, reviewed on 06/23/2011, accessed on 07/14/2011.
  • “Mobile Phones, Brain Tumours and the Interphone Study: Where Are We Now?”, Journal – Environmental Health Perspectives, Anthony J. Swerdlow, Maria Feychting, Adele C. Green, Leeka Kheifets, David A. Savitz, International Commission for Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection Standing Committee on Epidemiology, published online-Jul 1, 2011, accessed on Jul 14, 2011.
  • “Evidence "increasingly against" phone cancer risk”, Reuters, by Ben Hirschler, published on Jul 4, 2011, accessed on Jul 14, 2011., http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/07/04/us-cancer-phones-idUSTRE7606GX20110704
  • Photo courtesy of uggboy on Flickr: www.flickr.com/photos/uggboy/4731842187/