A report (PDF) just released by the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared that cells phones may pose a risk for developing cancer. After reviewing published literature about a potential link between cell phone use and cancer, the WHO has concluded that cell phone use should be classified as a "Group 2B" agent on its spectrum of environmental factors that can increase the risk of human cancer. Group 2B agents are described as "possibly carcinogenic to humans".
The debate on whether increased cell phone use has been contentious the past decade, which has seen an exponential increase in the number of cell phones in use to over 5 billion. During the early years of cell phone technology, cell phone manufacturers and service providers were quick to dispel any link between cell phone use and cancer, seeking to quash critics while maintaining massive growth. However, with billions of users on their phones more than ever, the issue is as important as ever.
The key piece supporting a possible link between cell phone use and cancer cites a study that reported a 40% increase in risk for gliomas in individuals classified as "heavy users" of their cell phones (equating to 30 minutes per day for a 10-year period). However, the WHO report also cautions against the certainty of the results, noting that it was only one study and that for similar studies the data were "limited to draw conclusions" for glioma and acoustic neuroma, and "inadequate to draw conclusions" for other types of cancer. Overall, the report states that additional, long-term research needs to be conducted in order to be more conclusive.
Nevertheless, if heavy usage of cell phones does increase your risk for cancer, would it change the amount you use your cell phone? Early studies were quashed by cell phone companies at a time when cell phones were still viewed as a useful novelty. However, now that they are an integral part of our everyday lives, especially with the emergence of smart phones, would an increased risk of cancer be enough to reduce your usage? Let us know in the comments.