Moving radiofrequency radiation from Group 2B to 1 as a human carcinogen

The carcinogenic effect of radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (RF-EMF) on humans was evaluated at a meeting during 24 – 31 May 2011 at the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) at WHO in Lyon, France. The Working Group categorised RF-EMF from mobile phones, and from other devices that emit similar non-ionising electromagnetic fields, as a Group 2B, i.e. a ‘possible’, human carcinogen.

After that meeting supportive evidence has come from e.g. the French CERENAT study and also our recent publication on glioma. An increased risk for acoustic neuroma associated with use of wireless phones was published by our research group after the meeting giving pooled results of our study periods 1997-2003 and 2007-2009. Also other studies have reported similar findings.

We evaluated the Hill viewpoints on association and causation used in the 1960’s in the debate on lung cancer risk among smokers. Using these viewpoints our summary was that RF-EMF exposure should be a Group 1 carcinogen according to IARC criteria. There is now a petition to support that notion aiming at alerting IARC to classify such exposure to cause human cancer. Those who want to support the petition can follow this link.

New study confirms increased risk for glioma associated with use of mobile phones and cordless phones

We published recently a pooled analysis of our case-control studies on glioma and use of mobile phones and cordless phones. The study has been published in Pathophysiology after pre-review and can be accessed via Internet. The results confirm a statistically significant increased risk for glioma and the risk increases with time from first use of the wireless phone and number of hours for use over the years. The risk is highest on the same side of the brain as the phone has been used, especially in the area with the highest exposure to microwaves, the temporal lobe, which would be expected.

These studies strengthen the 2011 classification by IARC at WHO that the microwave exposure is a ‘Possible human carcinogen’, Group 2B. In fact using the Hill viewpoints on association and causation it should be classified as Group 1, the agent causes human cancer. We have explored that fact in more detail in a previous article. The present results confirm that classification.

Our results have gained interest in many countries after a press release by Reuters and have also been discussed in the Finnish Medical newspaper. However, these worrying results for human health have not been discussed at all in Sweden, so the layman is uniformed about how important it is to avoid such exposure.

Decreased survival in patients with glioblastoma multiforme associated with use of mobile and cordless phones

In a new study a decreased survival was found in glioblastoma patients with long-term use of mobile and cordless phones. The study is free to download here.

According to the study use of wireless phones in the >20 years latency group (time since first use) yielded an increased hazard ratio (HR) = 1.7, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.2–2.3 for glioma, a decreased survival. For astrocytoma grade IV (glioblastoma multiforme; n = 926) mobile phone use yielded HR = 2.0, 95% CI = 1.4–2.9 and cordless phone use HR = 3.4, 95% CI = 1.04–11 in the same latency category. Due to the relationship with survival the classification of IARC (possibly carcinogenic to humans, Group 2B) is strengthened and RF-EMF should be regarded as human carcinogen requiring urgent revision of current exposure guidelines. The findings are discussed in detail in the article.

WHO fact sheet on RF-EMF

The carcinogenic effect of radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (RF-EMF) on humans was evaluated at a meeting during 24 – 31 May 2011 at the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) at WHO in Lyon, France. The Working Group categorised RF-EMF from mobile phones, and from other devices that emit similar non-ionising electromagnetic fields, as a Group 2B, i.e. a ‘possible’, human carcinogen. IARC is a cancer organisation at WHO.

A fact sheet from WHO issued in June 2011 shortly after the IARC decision stated that  ‘To date, no adverse health effects have been established as being caused by mobile phone use’, and furthermore that ‘Tissue heating is the principal mechanism of interaction between radiofrequency energy and the human body’. It is unclear who wrote this fact sheet, but it is well known that WHO has not acknowledge a carcinogenic effect from RF-EMF in contrast to IARC.

On September 30, 2014 WHO sent a letter as follows:

Dear colleagues,

The World Health Organization is in the process of revising and updating the Environmental Health Criteria document on Radio frequency fields. A first draft has been developed and is now open for consultation by RF experts. We are seeking comments on the accuracy and completeness of its current content. The draft document is available at http://www.who.int/peh-emf/research/rf_ehc_page/en/.

The results of this consultation will feed into an ongoing review process and help to improve the content and structure of the upcoming edition. The document will be finalized by an expert group and will be published in the WHO Environmental Health Criteria series.

The expert consultation is open until 15 November 2014. If you have questions, please contact us at emfproject@who.int.

I would be grateful if you could further disseminate this information to interested parties as appropriate.

We look forward to your participation.

Dr. T E van Deventer | Team Leader | Radiation Programme | Department of Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health |World Health Organization | Geneva, Switzerland | Tel: + 41 22 791 3950 | Email: vandeventere@who.int 

The current WHO process has been commented by Dariusz Leszczynski on BRHP – Between a Rock and a Hard Place. The chapters are incomplete. Several important studies are missing. The summary conclusions are not available. The authors are unknown so it is not possible to evaluated potential conflicts of interest.

It would be tempting to dismiss and ignore such an incomplete ‘review’. However, it is sent for consultations until 15 November, and not to rebut would be taken by WHO as a proof of good work, although the conclusion is opposite.

Mobile phone use is associated with decreased survival in patients with glioblastoma multiforme (astrocytoma grade IV)

The p53 protein is a transcription factor that plays a vital role in regulating cell growth, DNA repair and apoptosis, and p53 mutations are involved in disease progression. In a recent study it was found that use of mobile phones for ≥3 hours a day was associated with increased risk for the mutant type of p53 gene expression in the peripheral zone of astrocytoma grade IV. The mutation was statistically significant correlated with shorter overall survival time. The study was rather small (n=63) and no data on latency of mobile phone use was given.

We have previously reported decreased survival in patients with glioblastoma multiforme associated with use of mobile phones. The present study supports our findings and gives insight into a possible genetic mechanism both for the increased risk for glioblastoma multiforme and the decreased survival.

WiFi in classrooms

Both in Sweden and in many other countries wireless communication systems are increasingly installed in schools. They emit radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (RF-EMF) when used. RF-EMF is classified as ‘possible’ human carcinogen, Group B. There is an alternative to use wired internet connections instead. This is discussed in more detail in this article.

New study confirms increased risk for gliomas associated with use of mobile phone

On 9 May 2014 a new French case-control study on mobile phone use and brain tumour risk in the CERENAT study was published online. It confirms an increased risk for gliomas in the heaviest users. Life-time cumulative use > 896 hours produced odds ratio (OR) = 2.89, 95 % confidence interval (CI) = 1.41-5.93. Number of calls (> 18 360 calls) gave OR = 2.10, 95 % CI = 1.03-4.31. Considering a 5-year latency period (5-year censorship) increased the risk further in the last decile of cumulative use to OR = 5.30, 95 % CI = 2.12-13.23.

Increased risk was found for analogue phone use; OR = 3.75, 95 % CI = 0.97-14.43, and digital mobile phone use only; OR = 2.71, 95 % CI = 1.03-7.10. Risks were higher for temporal tumours, occupational and urban mobile phone use. Unfortunately the study did not include use of cordless phones (DECT) which leads to underestimate of the risks since such use was regarded as no exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (RF-EMF).

The study included also cases with meningioma. A statistically significant increased risk was found for cumulative duration of calls > 896 hours yielding OR = 2.57, 95 % CI = 1.02-6.44. However, overall the results were less consistent for an association than for gliomas.

This study reports important findings that add to the conclusion that gliomas are caused by exposure to RF-EMF. It strengthens the conclusions in our article on causation using the Hill viewpoints on causation and association.