Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Cell Phones and the Brain: Reason for Concern?

Boris Sosnoviy/Shutterstock

The World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer released findings on Tuesday of an intensive review of research on the effects of cell-phone use and concluded that while the evidence is not strong enough to convict the ubiquitous devices of causing harm to humans, there is reason to exercise caution. The review panel's chair, preventive-medicine expert Jonathan Samet, M.D., of the University of Southern California, said that the data point to cell phones being "possibly carcinogenic," a category that puts it in the company of low-frequency magentic fields emitted by powerlines, for example.

The key factors in the WHO panel's decision to issue a caution were studies linking cell-phone use to two types of brain tumors--malignant gliomas and benign acoustic neuromas. The panel didn't issue  recommendations about amount of cell-phone exposure it believes may be safe or the need for regulations of the devices. Experts commenting on the findings, however, said it may be prudent to increase the use of the phones for texting and to use headsets that put distance between the user's head and the phone.

For more about research on cell phones and the brain, see Psychiatric News at


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