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Cell phones have become such an integral part of our daily lives that it’s natural to want to dismiss warning of potential health hazards associated with their use. But a new advisory issued from the World Health Organization may cause us to reconsider how we use cell phones, and whether these devices should be used
at all by young people.

Evidence from research by 31 scientists indicates that electromagnetic fields, such as those emitted by wireless communication, could be harmful to human health.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the World Health Organization’s cancer research institute, said there is mounting evidence for the new classification of radio-frequency electromagnetic fields as “possibly carcinogenic” to humans, based on an increased risk of glioma, a malignant type of brain cancer which starts in the brain or spine, associated with wireless phone use.

Dr. Jonathan Samet, a University of Southern California professor who was chairman of IARC’s working group, told reporters May 30, “The bottom line, after reviewing essentially all the evidence that is relevant to looking at radio-frequency electronic magnetic fields, the Working Group classified radio-frequency electronic magnetic fields as possibly carcinogenic to humans.”

“…after reviewing essentially all the evidence that is relevant to looking at radio-frequency electronic magnetic fields, the Working Group classified radio-frequency electronic magnetic fields as possibly carcinogenic to humans”

Before discarding your cell phone, however, bear in mind that these are preliminary findings which indicate a possible link between cell phone use and cancer. The findings are considered “Group 2B” status, which are flagged for further research. The findings of current studies to date do not place cell phone use in the “carcinogenic” or “possibly carcinogenic” categories.

While the science is not complete, cell phone users are advised to take precautions when using their devices.

IARC’s decision, supported by a vast majority of members of the working group, did not quantitate the risk, but flagged results of an IARC study showing a 40 per cent increased risk for gliomas in the highest category of cellphone users. This was calculated as a reported average use of 30 minutes per day over a 10-year period.

Pending the availability of additional information, IARC director Christopher Wild said “it is important to take pragmatic measures to reduce exposure,” such as hands-free devices or texting.

To learn how to reduce your exposure to radiation while using your cell phone, read our article: Six Tips for Safer Cell Phone Use.