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Kristy Hamilton 08 Aug 2016, 22:37

The Conversation

It is a question any mobile phone user would be keen to have answered – and science does offer some clues. In 2011, for example, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified mobile phone radiation as a possible human carcinogen, group 2B.

The classification was based predominantly on evidence from population studies. A study by the European Union-funded INTERPHONE group and another led by L. Hardell, a Swedish epidemiologist, showed an increased risk (40-170%) of developing glioma, a malignant brain cancer, in people who used a mobile phone for 30 minutes a day over ten years.

The idea of mobile phone radiation increasing the risk of cancer was strengthened by two other studies. The Cerenat study, published in 2013, confirmed observations of the INTERPHONE and Hardell studies. And an animal study in 2015 showed cell phone radiation enhanced the carcinogenic effects of chemicals.

This evidence indicates that mobile phone radiation might indeed be “possibly carcinogenic” (IARC’s group 2B) or even “probably carcinogenic” (IARC’s group 2A) to humans.

IARC classifies agents as carcinogenic (group 1), probably carcinogenic (group 2A), possibly carcinogenic (group 2B), not classifiable as carcinogen (group 3), probably not carcinogenic (group 4).

However, other studies show the number of people getting brain cancer has remained unchanged or only slightly increased. This is in spite of the dramatic increase in the number of users of mobile phones over the last ten to twenty years.

And so there is a contradiction between the evidence that shows an increased risk of brain cancer and the studies that show that the rate of brain cancer in populations “saturated” by mobile phones is fairly constant.

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