World Health Organization: Cellphones are possibly carcinogenic to humans

UPDATED 10:35 p.m.: The headline originally stated the WHO said cell phones were carcinogenic. They are possibly carcinogenic. Melissa still recommends a nice headset.


Warning: Cellphones may be hazardous to your health. (Eric Risberg/AP)

Journalist Christopher Ketcham wrote that line in February 2010 in a GQ article detailing the health hazards of cellphones. In April, This American Life interviewed Ketcham about his article. Ketcham said he wanted to warn people about the dangers of cellphones, but that he often was derided by his belief — even by his own teenage daughter. “Most people think I’m crazy. Most people think I’m absolutely bonkers,” he told This American Life host Ira Glass. “They dismiss outright what I have to say. They’ll listen to the evidence and then call their friend to tell them about it.”

A year later, Ketcham has a higher authority partially backing up his claims.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer, an arm of the World Health Organization, has classified cellphones as possibly carcinogenic to humans. It falls into a category with pesticide and gasoline engine exhaust.

Though there have been a number of studies on the link between cancer and cellphones, there has been controversy surrounding tests, with the cellphone industry contending no clear-cut connection and advocacy groups claiming cellphone providers funded some studies that showed no link. There are other problems with studying cellphone use.

From the Associated Press:

“Because cellphones are so popular, it may be impossible for experts to compare cellphone users who develop brain tumors with people who don’t use the devices. According to a survey last year, the number of cellphone subscribers worldwide has hit 5 billion, or nearly three-quarters of the global population.

“People’s cellphone habits have also changed dramatically since the first studies began years ago, and it’s unclear if the results of previous research would still apply today.

“Since many cancerous tumors take decades to develop, experts say it’s impossible to conclude cellphones have no long-term health risks. The studies conducted so far haven’t tracked people for longer than about a decade.”

While it may not be conclusive enough to get the most chatty of you away from your phone, might I suggest you invest in a pair of these?

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