Working group explores health risks of mobile useReport concludes there 'could' be some risk

01 June 2011

World Health Organisation

The World Health Organisation HQ in Geneva

A working group consisting of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified the radiation emitted by handsets as 'possibly carcinogenic'.

The panel of 31 scientists from 14 countries concluded that there 'could be some risk' for phone users and gave mobile phones a Group 2B classification.

This classification means that there is 'limited evidence of carcinogenicity in humans' and 'less than sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity in animals'.

Cancer Research UK describe this group as 'a catch-all category'. The 2B classification places mobile phones below tanning booths and alcoholic beverages (group 1) and hairdressing (group 2A), and in the same category as coffee and carpentry.

Dr. Jonathan Samet, chairman of the working group, said: 'There could be some risk, and therefore we need to keep a close watch for a link between cell phones and cancer risk'.

Which? technology expert, Ben Stevens, says: 'This report just supports the existing concerns around the potential risks posed by mobile phone use. There's still insufficient evidence to conclude either way whether using a mobile phone does or doesn't increase the risk of cancer.

'Which? supports the UK government's 'precautionary approach' for mobile phone use, which includes the recommendation that mobile phone use by children for non-essential calls should be discouraged.'

IARC agent groups

  • Group 1- The agent is carcinogenic to humans
  • Group 2A - The agent is probably carcinogenic to humans
  • Group 2B - The agent is possibly carcinogenic to humans
  • Group 3 - The agent is not classifiable as to its carcinogenicity to humans
  • Group 4 - The agent is probably not carcinogenic to humans

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