We are the Guinea Pigs for the Health Effects of Cell Phone Use

The presence of cell phones in most parts of the world is undeniably ubiquitous—so it’s not surprising that many people (and news outlets) have chosen to ignore the studies that have been emerging over the last several years about cell phone radiation and its possible links to cancer.


But the public can’t ignore the evidence any longer: late last month, the World Health Organization released a statement declaring that, “Radiation from cell phones can possibly cause cancer.”  The agency now lists mobile phone use in the same “carcinogenic hazard” category as lead, engine exhaust, and chloroform.


31 scientists from 14 countries, including the United States, made the decision after evaluating peer-reviewed studies on cell phone safety.  The team found enough evidence to categorize personal exposure as “possibly carcinogenic to humans.”


The scientists found an increase in two types of brain cancer (gliomas and acoustic neuromas) for mobile phone users, but were not yet able to draw conclusions for other types of cancers.


It’s important to remember that we have only used cell phones for a limited period of time, and it takes decades for many types of cancers to develop.


In other words, we are the guinea pigs for the health effects of cell phone use.  Not until we have been using cell phones for another couple decades will scientists be able to fully study the health effects of mobile phone radiation.  Until then, large health institutions, like the World Health Organization may list mobile phone use as a “carcinogenic hazard”, but they won’t confirm that adverse health effects have been established.


Seems enormously contradictory, right?  But this is how institutions operate under our government’s current system—all new substances and technologies are assumed “safe until proven dangerous”.


We need to flip that system around.

CEH (and many other environmental health organizations) firmly believe that government should invoke the Precautionary Principle, requiring companies that profit from new, potentially harmful technologies (like industrial chemicals and products that emit radiation) demonstrate the safety of their chemicals, from their production through their use and disposal, before exposing people to those chemicals and technologies.


Going forward, it’s essential that we take great precautions in thinking about the way we develop, create, and use new technologies—keeping our safety, health, and the health of the environment in mind—before it’s too late.


Read the full CNN story: Cell Phone Use Can Increase Cancer Risk.