Wednesday, June 1, 2011...9:00 am

Mobile phones and cancer – the latest non-evidence

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The latest instalment of a long-running technology health scare finds the BBC web site telling us that Mobiles ‘may cause brain cancer’.
This isn’t exactly new. We’ve been worried that mobile phones can cause brain tumours for a couple of decades now. First studies say they do. Then they say they don’t. What’s the evidence now?
This is one of those studies of studies. Apparently a group of experts has met, probably over drinks, to review a whole lot of published scientific papers about mobile phones and electromagnetic radiation. What did they find?

The World Health Organisation’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) […] concluded that mobiles should be rated as “possibly carcinogenic”

Oh no! Tell us more!
In a grim statement, the group concluded that it was “not clearly established that it does cause cancer in humans”. But, just to be on the safe side, an increased risk of a malignant type of brain cancer “cannot be ruled out”.
Well, it’s not like the WHO has anything else to do with its funding – like tackle the near-million deaths a year we have from malaria. (Mind you, sometimes it seems eager to downplay malaria deaths, rather than talk them up. Maybe it’s easier to tackle problems that don’t exist).
So – now anything that can’t actually be ruled out as a health risk warrants an official warning from the WHO and scary headlines in the national news media. Hold the front page…

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