Wireless devices-potential cancer risk says World Health Organization

Cell phones, cell towers, wi-fi, smart meters, DECT phones, cordless phones, baby monitors and other wireless devices all emit non ionizing radio frequencies, which the World Health Organization (WHO) has just classified as a potential carcinogen. This is big news from the WHO and governments and decision makers can no longer hide behind the “no RF health effects” industry mantra.

Cindy Sage, co-editor of the Bioinitiative Report writes, ” The WHO International Agency for Research on Cancer has just issued it’s decision that non-ionizing radiofrequency radiation is classified as a 2B (Possible) Carcinogen. This is the same category as DDT, lead, and engine exhaust. This mirrors the 2001 IARC finding that extremely low frequency (ELF-EMF) that classified as a 2B (Possible) Carcinogen. This pertained to power frequency (power line and appliance) non-ionizing radiation. These two findings confirm that non-ionizing radiation should be considered as a possible risk factor for cancers; and that new, biologically-based public safety standards are urgently needed. ”


Lyon, France, May 31, 2011 ‐‐

“The WHO/International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified radiofrequency electromagnetic fields as possibly carcinogenic to humans (Group 2B), based on an increased risk for glioma, a malignant type of brain cancer1, associated with wireless phone use.

Over the last few years, there has been mounting concern about the possibility of adverse health effects resulting from exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields, such as those emitted by wireless communication devices. The number of mobile phone subscriptions is estimated at 5 billion globally.
From May 24–31 2011, a Working Group of 31 scientists from 14 countries has been meeting at IARC in Lyon, France, to assess the potential carcinogenic hazards from exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields. These assessments will be published as Volume 102 of the IARC Monographs, which will be the fifth volume in this series to focus on physical agents, after Volume 55 (Solar Radiation), Volume 75 and Volume 78 on ionizing radiation (X‐rays, gamma‐rays, neutrons, radio‐nuclides), and Volume 80 on non‐ionizing radiation (extremely low‐frequency electromagnetic fields).
The IARC Monograph Working Group discussed the possibility that these exposures might induce long‐term health effects, in particular an increased risk for cancer. This has relevance for public health, particularly for users of mobile phones, as the number of users is large and growing, particularly among young adults and children.
The IARC Monograph Working Group discussed and evaluated the available literature on the following exposure categories involving radiofrequency electromagnetic fields:
␣ occupational exposures to radar and to microwaves; ␣ environmental exposures associated with transmission of signals for radio, television and wireless telecommunication; and ␣ personal exposures associated with the use of wireless telephones.
International experts shared the complex task of tackling the exposure data, the studies of cancer in humans, the studies of cancer in experimental animals, and the mechanistic and other relevant data.

1 237 913 new cases of brain cancers (all types combined) occurred around the world in 2008 (gliomas represent 2/3 of these). Source: Globocan 2008

The evidence was reviewed critically, and overall evaluated as being limited2 among users of wireless telephones for glioma and acoustic neuroma, and inadequate3 to draw conclusions for other types of cancers. The evidence from the occupational and environmental exposures mentioned above was similarly judged inadequate. The Working Group did not quantitate the risk; however, one study of past cell phone use (up to the year 2004), showed a 40% increased risk for gliomas in the highest category of heavy users (reported average: 30 minutes per day over a 10‐year period).

Dr Jonathan Samet (University of Southern California, USA), overall Chairman of the Working Group, indicated that “the evidence, while still accumulating, is strong enough to support a conclusion and the 2B classification. The conclusion means that there could be some risk, and therefore we need to keep a close watch for a link between cell phones and cancer risk.”
“Given the potential consequences for public health of this classification and findings,” said IARC Director Christopher Wild, “it is important that additional research be conducted into the long‐ term, heavy use of mobile phones. Pending the availability of such information, it is important to take pragmatic measures to reduce exposure such as hands‐free devices or texting. ”
The Working Group considered hundreds of scientific articles; the complete list will be published in the Monograph. It is noteworthy to mention that several recent in‐press scientific articles4 resulting from the Interphone study were made available to the working group shortly before it was due to convene, reflecting their acceptance for publication at that time, and were included in the evaluation.
A concise report summarizing the main conclusions of the IARC Working Group and the evaluations of the carcinogenic hazard from radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (including the use of mobile telephones) will be published in The Lancet Oncology in its July 1 issue, and in a few days online.

2 ‘Limited evidence of carcinogenicity’: A positive association has been observed between exposure to the agent and cancer for which a causal interpretation is considered by the Working Group to be credible, but chance, bias or confounding could not be ruled out with reasonable confidence.
3 ‘Inadequate evidence of carcinogenicity’: The available studies are of insufficient quality, consistency or statistical power to permit a conclusion regarding the presence or absence of a causal association between exposure and cancer, or no data on cancer in humans are available.
4 a. ‘Acoustic neuroma risk in relation to mobile telephone use: results of the INTERPHONE international case‐ control study’ (the Interphone Study Group, in Cancer Epidemiology, in press) b. ‘Estimation of RF energy absorbed in the brain from mobile phones in the Interphone study’ (Cardis et al., Occupational and Environmental Medicine, in press)
c. ‘Risk of brain tumours in relation to estimated RF dose from mobile phones – results from five Interphone countries’ (Cardis et al., Occupational and Environmental Medicine, in press) ”


41 thoughts on “Wireless devices-potential cancer risk says World Health Organization”

  1. There seems to be a lot of misinformation here, leading to the commenters not understanding what’s going on here.

    The WHO/IARC has classified EMFs as a POSSIBLE human carcinogen. The actual definition of this classification is that there is not enough evidence to show that it is a carcinogen, and therefore, the POSSIBILITY cannot be ruled out. It does not mean that evidence shows EMFs are carcinogenic, or that it is definitely a carcinogen.

    From this, commenters have surmised that cell phones, smart meters…etc…have caused them cancer. We know for a fact that induced cancers (as opposed to genetically inherited conditions) require decades to develop. So the cell phones and smart meters that have only become common in the last decade are not going to lead to a spike in cancers today (if they even cause cancer at all). One would have to wait 20-30 years into the future to see if any effects show up.

    The other thing people seem to be ignorant of is all of the other sources of EMFs. EMFs from home appliances (fridges, ovens, microwaves, computer monitors) are MUCH stronger than those from transmission towers and smart meters because of the proximity you are to them. The EMF from a smart meter which is shielded by a wall, or a transmission line 30 meters high and 50 meters away from your home will be so weak by the time it reaches where you are located. In contrast, standing in the kitchen within 1 meter of a microwave, stove and fridge is going to give you a much higher EMF exposure on a daily, regular basis.

    Stop believing the garbage you read from bloggers who know nothing about the issue, and who regurgitate false news from other websites.

  2. I’d love to see a series of polls, surveys, asking cancer patients to go around their house and find the smart meters around, and track how close they are to the metters, how long they lived there, and cross their location with the map of cell towers.

    I’m a webmaster, and I wonder how feasible you see it without being harassed by men in black! (I think some org like yours should do it)

  3. Taxie driver,
    The meters transmit every 28-30 seconds. They emit radiofrequency radiation 86,400 times per month–not one time per month likethe utility claims. Stop listening to propaganda and do your own homework dude! A nuclear policy expert gives the real info–smart meters expose us to 50-160 times the radiofrequency radiation when you correct the industry info for the duty cycle and for the fact that a smart meter gicves full body radiation–not just to the head. Thousands of people are sick from this. My children have a smart meter right in the space next to the family/play room. They get blasted 86,000 times per month from that nad we have one right outside our sitting room. So they get exposure from that also. Not tot mention when the mesh network goes up. Get yourself educated so that you can protect tyourself and yuour kids. Wake up America!!!

  4. Reply to Taxi Driver:
    What you wrote MAY apply to a specific type of smart meter, however the information does NOT apply to millions of meters being installed around the country. How often they are transmitting is highly dependent on the density of buildings/units AND your position within the WAN (wide area network). Think of it like a funnel effect. The closer your meter is to the WAN devices, the more signals it will be funneling. Wireless smart meters do not just send YOUR data, but act as random relays for all the other units in your area. People have tested the number of power spikes coming from these devices and have measured in hundreds to even thousands of spikes per hour in densely populated areas. This is ongoing – 24/7.

    The effect of these particular devices were NOT tested in a network environment on any test animals. We are the test animals. And some percentage of the population IS biologically sensitive to this type of signalling. You can read about their symptoms on
    emfsafetynetwork.com go to “most popular” heading and top heading is called “smart meter health complaints”. It does not pass the straight face test that all these people would manifest identical symptoms after the installation of these devices. Some suggest that individuals with mercury or other heavy metal toxicity may be the more susceptible to these health effects.

    In some places this potential effect is recognized and following the precautionary principle WIRED SMART METERS have been installed instead. WIRED Smart Meters provide most of the same benefits of wireless meters – but which send the meter information over the existing wired infrastructure without the use of microwave/RF radiation.

    Below are a few excerpts that are worth considering. I realize that the powerful communications industry has funded their own studies which largely shape popular opinion at the moment. But, if I have to put a group with a huge financial interest at stake, next to scientists who specialize in Cellular Biophysics and Neuroscience, I will not argue with the conclusions of Nobel Prize nominees working in their field of expertise:

    Robert Becker, Ph.D Nobel Prize nominee noted for decades of research on the effects of electromagnetic radiation says:
    “I have no doubt in my mind that, at present time, the greatest polluting element in the earth’s environment is the proliferation of electromagnetic fields.”

    William Rea, MD Founder & Director of the Environmental Health Center, Dallas Past President,American Academy of Environmental Medicine:
    “Sensitivity to electromagnetic radiation is the emerging health problem of the 21st century. It isimperative health practitioners, governments, schools and parents learn more about it. The human health stakes are significant”.

    Martin Blank, Ph.D Associate Professor, Department of Physiology and Cellular Biophysics,Columbia University, College of Physicians and Surgeons; Researcher in Bioelectromagnetics; Author of the BioInitiative Report’s section on Stress Proteins.
    “Cells in the body react to EMFs as potentially harmful, just like to other environmental toxins, including heavy metals and toxic chemicals. The DNA in living cells recognizes electromagneticfields at very low levels of exposure; and produces a biochemical stress response. The scientificevidence tells us that our safety standards are inadequate, and that we must protect ourselves from exposure to EMF due to power lines, cell phones and the like, or risk the known consequences.
    The science is very strong and we should sit up and pay attention.”

    Olle Johansson, Ph.D. Associate Professor, The Experimental Dermatology Unit, Department of Neuroscience, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden; Author of the BioInitiative Report’s section on the Immune System.
    “It is evident that various biological alterations, including immune system modulation, are present in electrohypersensitive persons. There must be an end to the pervasive nonchalance, indifference and lack of heartfelt respect for the plight of these persons. It is clear something serious has happened and is happening. Every aspect of electrohypersensitive peoples’ lives, including theability to work productively in society, have healthy relations and find safe, permanent housing, is at stake. The basics of life are becoming increasingly inaccessible to a growing percentage of the
    world’s population. I strongly advise all governments to take the issue of electromagnetic health hazards seriously and to take action while there is still time. There is too great a risk that the ever increasing RF-based communications technologies represent a real danger to humans, especially because of their exponential, ongoing and unchecked growth. Governments should act decisively to
    protect public health by changing the exposure standards to be biologically-based, communicating the results of the independent science on this topic and aggressively researching links with a multitude of associated medical conditions.”

    David Carpenter, MD Professor, Environmental Health Sciences, and Director, Institute for Health and the Environment, School of Public Health, University of Albany, SUNY Co-Editor, the BioInitiative Report (www.BioInitiative.org).:
    “Electromagnetic fields are packets of energy that does not have any mass, and visible light is what we know best. X-rays are also electromagnetic fields, but they are more energetic than visible light. Our concern is for those electromagnetic fields that are less energetic than visible light, including those that are associated with electricity and those used for communications and in microwave ovens. The fields associated with electricity are commonly called “extremely low frequency” fields (ELF),
    while those used in communication and microwave ovens are called “radiofrequency” (RF) fields. Studies of people have shown that both ELF and RF exposures result in an increased risk of cancer, and that this occurs at intensities that are too low to cause tissue heating. Unfortunately, all of our exposure standards are based on the false assumption that there are no hazardous effects at intensities that do not cause tissue heating. Based on the existing science, many public health experts believe it is possible we will face an epidemic of cancers in the future resulting from uncontrolled use of cell phones and increased population exposure to WiFi and other wireless devices.
    Thus it is important that all of us, and especially children, restrict our use of cell phones, limit exposure to background levels of Wi-Fi, and that government and industry discover ways in which to allow use of wireless devices without such elevated risk of serious disease. We need to educate decision-makers that ‘business as usual’ is unacceptable. The importance of this public health issue can not be underestimated.”

    Eric Braverman, MD Brain researcher, Author of The Edge Effect, and Director of Path Medical in New York City and The PATH Foundation. Expert in the brain’s global impact on illness andhealth.
    “There is no question EMFs have a major effect on neurological functioning. They slow our brain waves and affect our long-term mental clarity. We should minimize exposures as much as possible to optimize neurotransmitter levels and prevent deterioration of health”.

  5. A little info about smart meters:

    1. Smart meters use the Zigbee protocol, operating on either 900 MHz or 2.4 GHz, the same frequency bands as baby monitors and WiFi, respectively.

    2. These frequency bands are extremely remote from the ELF band.

    3. The radio frequency transmissions are at miniscule power levels even compared WiFi and Cell phones. Whatever danger the Zigbee meter radio interfaces provide, they are tiny compared to such higher powered devices as cell phones and AC power lines.

    4. The transmitters in the smart meters are active only when the meter reading person activates the meter with a radio wake-up call, and the transmission would last for a small fraction of a second per reading (nominally once a month). The rest of the time, they remain in “sleep mode,” listening, but not transmitting (and thus not emitting any “non-ionizing” radiation). FYI visible light and ripples in a pot are also examples of non-ionizing radiation.

    5. Ionizing radiation is the type that is carcinogenic per se.

    In light of the above, I would worry more about WiFi, Baby Monitors, RF television remotes, Microwave ovens, and cell phones long before I would worry about this scantily powered, near non-existent transmiter.

  6. Most Smart meters are digital meters, without a spinning disc- and there will be a FCC ID number on it. Should say: FCC______….

  7. I am trying to stop the Gas Co from installing a radio frequency device on my meter.
    They are pressing me thru phone, e-mail, letters to allow a device to be put on the meter. I asked the city for help and now they are pressing them to get permission to come into my home. They have said they will turn off my gas. I have leukemia and congestive heart failure and the stress has caused my to have my blood pressure to go to extreme highs and now I am taking medicine. I have trouble with meds so I am on the third kind, and not doing any good. Any help or advice. Thank you.

  8. hi jeff, i don’t know if your strategy will work but i am adding it to my arsenal. i just called pg&e and told them no thanks. from what i knew at the time we could postpone the install. i’m seeing some of our neighbors have the meters installed. as a last resort you should be able to stop transmission with some foil.

    i think the key is getting people informed. people just don’t know and they have become lulled into a false sense of safety.

  9. I am doing what I can to resist the installation of “SmartMeters” and to assist others in doing so. They are murderously dangerous devices that no one should be forced to aloow anywhere near their property. So here is a possible strategy I thought of. I would love some feedback on it:

    If your property has a fire insurance policy, get a letter from your insurer stating that installation of any non U.L. approved device voids the coverage. Laminate and post that letter, along with a statement to the effect that if any installer installed any device that is not U.L approved, that you will hold the installer liable for fire liability since their actions will have voided the insurance policy on which you are paying premiums. Of course, post this right on the power panel, or as close to it as you can get it so that any installer has to see it.

    If you do not own the property and are a renter, you may still have renter’s insurance, in which case you should be able to get such a letter from your insurer.

  10. Don’t cochlear implants for the deaf also create radiofrequency electromagnetic fields? Have any studies been done to track cancer (or other disease incidence other than meningitis) in users of cochlear implants?

  11. Hello,
    Thank you for all your helpful information. I really appreciate it. We as health-conscious individuals have known there was harm in these wireless devices for a while.

    My question is: What exactly should we do about it? I saw a couple of devices that attach to the cell phone and even bought one in the past. I can’t tell a difference myself with or without it, so I know it will be hard for people to make the investment. It’s a real dilemma to me.
    Thanks again!

  12. Yes, let’s take this as an honest and helpful step towards true independent, or at least honestly funded studies where ALL people involved operate honestly and in their full integrity. May everyone involved, from the highest-paid executives TO seemingly-powerless employees concerned about keeping their jobs, remember that ANY immune system compromise from ANY technology can be redesigned for safety. When we all act honestly this way, we help the WHO and IARC to fulfill their missions of assisting ALL of us to be healthier over longer periods of time, WHILE watching the technology of conveniences flourish.

  13. Thank you for posting this news. I am so glad to see that the WHO is realizing the need for this classification. Perhaps our American Government will finally see that we need more stringent guidelines for our wireless devices here.

Comments are closed.