LYON, France - Cell phones have revolutionized our communication, but after years of speculation, a new assessment of their risks raises the question, 'At what cost?' On Tuesday, the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified the radio frequencies (RF) emitted by cell phones as a 'possible human carcinogen,' known as Class 2B.
Dr. Annie Sasco, a cancer researcher at the University of Bordeaux, France, and a distinguished 20-year IARC veteran, feels an even higher classification is warranted: Class 2A, which indicates a 'probable' human carcinogen. She says the fact that much of the research was sponsored by the cell phone industry may have affected the classification.
"That may explain why there is not sufficient evidence in experimental animals, but that's not good enough for automatically going down to 2B. I, myself, feel it would have been appropriate to have a 2A classification."
The RF emitted by cell phones is believed to put people at increased risk for glioma, a type of brain tumor. Some 237,900 new brain cancer cases occurred worldwide in 2008.
Camilla Rees, founder of ElectromagneticHealth.org and co-founder of the International EMF Alliance, explains the RF risk from cell phones is an indicator of a far greater problem, because more and more of our technological devices operate using these frequencies.
"The elephant in the room is that radiation risks are not only from cell phones, but from all radiation emitting consumer devices. So, that means wireless routers and networks, portable phones, wireless baby monitors, wireless computer equipment and the so-called 'Smart' utility meters that emit radiation - and that will soon be communicating with home appliances, like washing machines and dishwashers - that will create radiation-emitting transmitters in people's homes. Then, of course, there are the cell towers in people's neighborhoods, adding an additional layer of exposure."
This radiation has biological effects well beyond brain tumors, adds Rees.
"We know radio frequency radiation is reducing sperm count 40 percent, damaging DNA, creating a myriad of symptoms of electro-sensitivity, impairing learning in children, creating heart irregularities, and leading to permeability in every cell membrane in the body, including the blood brain barrier. We need to address the issue of risks fully, and not just focus on warnings about cell phone risks."
This week's news is expected to instigate worldwide change in terms of how cell phones are used, as well as providing governments the first formal justification to change radio frequency exposure guidelines. The IARC is calling for more research into the dangers. It's estimated that there are five-billion cell phones in use around the world.
In February, international scientists called for nations to adopt greatly lowered exposure guidelines, as seen in the Seletun Scientific Statement. Last week, the Council of Europe also called for major reductions to RF fields.
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