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Monday, June 6, 2011

Not enough evidence for cellphone usage leading to cancer: COAI

A day after World Health Organization warned of possible brain cancer due to heavy mobile usage, the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) has come out with a statement saying that there is not enough evidence to conclude the same.

"It is significant that IARC has concluded that RF electromagnetic fields are neither a definite nor a probable human carcinogen," said Rajan S Mathews, director general, COAI, in a statement today.

World Health Organization held an eight-day meeting in Lyon, France. At the end of this meeting, International Agency for Cancer Research (IARC), a part of WHO, announced that the radio-frequency electromagnetic fields generated by mobile phones are "possibly carcinogenic to humans".

Earlier too, world's top cancer experts have stated that mobile phones are "possibly carcinogenic". However, IARC hasn't given out a conclusion based on its study that mobile phone usage leads to cancer but instead opened up the subject for further research on radio-frequency electromagnetic fields.

Mathews adds, "IARC has only concluded that it may still be possible that RF fields are carcinogenic and has identified areas for further research. It may be noted that that a hazard is possible but not likely. IARC have only assessed the possibility of risk not the likelihood of risk in normal use. Their assessment will now be considered by health authorities who will determine its overall impact."

IARC had conducted two studies in the last decade which showed a higher risk for those who found to have had most intensive use of mobile phones, an average 30 minutes per day over a period of 10 years.

Jonathan Samet, president of the working group, said, "We simply don't know what might happen as people use their phones over longer time periods, possibly over a lifetime."

Kurt Saif, the scientist in charge of editing the IARC reports said, "There is some evidence of increased risk of glioma" and another form of non-malignant tumor called acoustic neuroma. But it is not at the moment clearly established that the use of mobile phones does in fact cause cancer in humans."

Cell phones have now joined the Group 2B as "possibly carcinogenic" along with lead, chloroform and gasoline exhaust. That means the materials in this group are "not classifiable" because such cancer-causing elements are noted as possibly carcinogenic, probably carcinogenic, or probably not carcinogenic.

The worried souls need to start taking care of their health by keeping a conscious check on their mobile handset usage. Apparently, using non-branded cell phones made from cheaper quality components and poor or no SAR (Specific Absorption Rate) also increases the possibility of being exposed to carcinogens due to prolonged usage.

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