Cell Phones Cause Cancer, Says World Health Organization
The World Health Organization (WHO) is stirring up a storm by claiming it will release a study later this year that links cell phone use to an increased risk of brain and salivary gland tumors. The decade-long study claims to have found a definite link, though it stops short of inferring direct causation. The press release, however, does state that using a mobile phone for a decade or more results in "a significantly increased risk" of these types of cancer.
The study isn't actually a medical experiment, but rather a survey and meta-study in the sense that it draws data from surveys previously undertaken by other research teams. Of course, the WHO study has already come under fire from critics, despite its unreleased status -- and for good reason.
Of course, it shouldn't come as a surprise that the WHO is reviving the debate over cell phones and cancer. The WHO has been criticized before for hyperbole, most notably over its study of second-hand smoke (PDF). But, even discounting those past general criticisms, there are legitimate questions about this particular study's methodology. First, MRIs have improved and become more common over the last ten years, leading to an increased detection of tumors, potentially skewing results of any such study. Secondly, there is no way to differentiate the effects of cell phone use from exposure to other sources of electro-magnetic radiation (such as microwaves and televisions). These facts were pointed out to News.Com.Au by brain tumor specialist, Professor Andrew Kaye.
So the debate rages on. We wouldn't suggest literally strapping your iPhone to your head 24 hours a day, but don't stop your weekly, hour-long phone call to your mother for fear it might end in chemotherapy. [From: Daily Express, News.Com.Au, and Telegraph]