WHO panel sees potential link
between cell phones, brain cancer
expert panel by the World Health Organization (WHO) has
established a potential link between the use of mobile phones and
brain cancer, the organisation said in a statement on its website.
A group of 31 scientists announced at Tuesday's meeting of the
The World Health Organisation (WHO) study linking mobile phone
usage with brain tumour does not reveal something previously
unknown and the warning had been spelt out long ago for India,
touted to be the world's fastest growing mobile market with 791
million mobile subscriptions, experts said Thursday.
"There have always been 'indicative studies' that said mobile
phones can cause cancer, be it in India or at international level.
The point is we have never really been able to substantiate it
with conclusive facts and end up spreading panic," B.C. Das,
director of B.R. Ambedkar Centre for Biomedical Research at the
Delhi University, told IANS.
Das, former director of the institute of preventive oncology in
Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), explained: "Mobile
phones are closer to the brain, so the electromagnetic radiations
emitted by them surely have certain adverse effects on the brain.
Now it is not necessary that they result in a multi factorial
disease like brain cancer."
A working group of 31 scientists from 14 countries meeting at the
WHO's International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) Wednesday
said a review of all the available scientific evidence suggested
cell phone use should be classified as "possibly carcinogenic".
The study stated: "Using a mobile phone might increase the risk of
developing certain types of brain tumours and consumers should
consider ways of reducing their exposure."
Lilavati Hospital in Mumbai and the ICMR had earlier conducted
studies on the "effects of mobile phones with Indian perspective".
But no study has been able to present conclusive proof, said P.K.
Julka, professor of radiotherapy and oncology at the All India
Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS).
Mobile handset manufacturers, meanwhile, echo the health experts
and advise waiting for more studies before reaching any final
"It is important to note that IARC has not classified radio
frequency fields as definitely nor even probably carcinogenic to
humans. The researchers have only concluded that based on limited
evidence, it may be possible that there could be some increased
risk for certain cancer," an official from Nokia told IANS.
Rajan S. Mathews, director general of the Cellular Operators
Association of India, said in statement: "It is significant that
IARC has concluded that radio frequency electromagnetic fields are
neither a definite nor a probable human carcinogen. Additional
research is required."
However, experts vouch for the precautions suggested by the WHO to
minimise the use of mobile phones.
"One can opt for text messaging, e-mail, landline phone use and
reduce the time spent talking on mobile phones. This should be
done without panicking," added Julka.
Youngsters, who comprise nearly 60 percent of the over 600 million
user base, too say the precautions are viable.
"I think one can surely resort to alternatives such text messaging
and e-mails to minimise the use of mobile phones. The study will
come as an alarm, though not proven," said 20-year-old Sakshi