A more sober analysis of the WHO/phones/cancer story

The tabloids are leading with headlines of the MOBILE PHONES WILL EAT YOUR FACE variety, but the WHO/phone/cancer story is something of a non-story. Here’s what Cancer Research has to say.

It is understandable that people are concerned about mobile phones, especially because they are so widely used. But so far, the published studies do not show that mobile phones could increase the risk of cancer.  This conclusion is backed up by the lack of a solid biological mechanism, and the fact that brain cancer rates are not going up significantly.

However, all of the studies so far have weaknesses, which make it impossible to entirely rule out a risk. Mobile phones are still a new technology and there is little evidence about effects of long-term use.

For this reason, the UK Government advises a precautionary stance. It suggests that if adults want to use a mobile phone, they can choose to minimise their exposure by keeping calls short. It also advises discouraging children under the age of 16 from making non-essential calls as well as also keeping their calls short.

And, as IARC’s working group said, there needs to be more research.