The debate over whether mobile phones and all the associated radiation zipping around the atmosphere are harmful to our health has been raging for practically as long as phones themselves have been around.
Now a World Health Organisation (WHO) unit has surfaced the issue afresh by claiming the radiation emitted by our phones could be a potential cause of cancer.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has published its findings from a fresh analysis of existing data, and says of the 900 'agents' examined, 400 were found to be carcinogenic, probably carcinogenic or possibly carcinogenic.
Mobile phones fall into the last group, which may not sound particularly earth-shattering, but still gives the WHO plenty cause for concern.
“The WHO/International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified radiofrequency electromagnetic fields as possibly carcinogenic to humans, based on an increased risk for glioma, a malignant type of brain cancer,” the organisation said in a statement.
“Given the potential consequences for public health of this classification and findings,” IARC director Christopher Wild said, “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.”
However CTIA, the international wireless association, played down the findings, saying other organisations had examined the same research and come to different conclusions, and that in any case the “possibly carcinogenic” label puts mobile phones in the same bracket as “pickled vegetables and coffee”.
“Based on previous assessments of the scientific evidence, the Federal Communications Commission has concluded that there is 'no scientific evidence that proves that wireless phone usage can lead to cancer',” Walls said.
“The Food and Drug Administration has also stated that ‘[t]he weight of scientific evidence has not linked cellphones with any health problems’.”