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.
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.