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Less support for possible link between cancer and using mobile phones

A possible link between cancer and use of mobile phones was not supported by a new report about recent research on electromagnetic fields published by the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority’s Scientific Council on Electromagnetic Fields.

Today the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority (SSM) released a report about recent research on electromagnetic fields. This report was produced by the Authority’s Scientific Council on Electromagnetic Fields.

In spring 2011, IARC, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) cancer research institute, classified radiofrequency fields as possibly carcinogenic to humans. This classification by the research institute was based on two epidemiological* studies that indicated a somewhat elevated risk of tumours of the brain and acoustic neuroma for users of mobile phones.

Additional studies have been published since 2011. Altogether, these studies do not support a link between using mobile phones and an elevated risk of developing cancer, a conclusion also supported through national cancer statistics from several countries.

“There is less scientific support for a possible link between mobile phones and cancer. However, there is some uncertainty when it comes to long-term use, in other words for people who have used these phones for more than 13-15 years,” says Lars Mjönes, scientific secretary of SSM’s Scientific Council.
“It is also too soon to completely rule out the possibility of an elevated risk of cancer among children, though the relatively limited research conducted to date does not suggest an elevated risk.”

There are studies showing that electrical activity in the brain might be affected by the radio waves from mobile phones, but the effects observed are minor and are unlikely to have any influence on behaviour or health.

As concluded by the Scientific Council in previous reports, there are no radiation protection problems for the general public related to radio waves from sources such as mobile phone base stations, television and radio transmitters or wireless computer networks in home or school environments.

Possible risks linked to power lines
Epidemiological* studies indicate a link between extremely low frequency electromagnetic fields (for instance from power lines) and a somewhat elevated risk of childhood leukaemia. 

“However, research has not been able to provide an explanation behind this link. There may for example be other environmental factors that have an impact,” says Lars Mjönes.

The Swedish Radiation Safety Authority’s assessment
The Swedish Radiation Safety Authority’s recommendations remain in effect until further notice: Users of mobile phones should, as a precaution, use hands-free equipment and hold the phone away from the body during calls.

The Authority also recommends caution when it comes to exposure to extremely low frequency electromagnetic fields, from power lines, for instance. This means that an effort should be made to limit exposure in housing, schools and similar environments if this can be done in a straightforward and inexpensive way.

For more information, please contact:
Lars Mjönes, scientific secretary, or Leif Moberg, chair of the Scientific Council.
Either can be contacted via the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority’s press officer on call, Tel. +46 8 799 40 20.

* Epidemiology is the scientific study of the incidence of disease in a population.


Last updated 2013-05-03