Radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (RF-EMF) and human cancer

Almost 5 000 persons world-wide have endorsed the petition to WHO/IARC to evaluate all scientific evidence and classify RF/EMF as human carcinogen, Group I. The petition is still open on Internet for those who want to sign it; follow this link. The joint statement is as follows:


Joint Statement

We—the undersigned organizations, doctors, and scientists—wholeheartedly support the scientific findings of a connection between cancer and RF/EMF radiation. For the sanctity of human life, especially our children, we respectfully request that:

  • WHO/IARC immediately conducts the appropriate scientific review within IARC to move RF/EMF radiation from its current class 2B to class 1, known carcinogen based on review of the complete scientific database.
  • As is the policy of the WHO with Smoking/Cancer related issues, we respectfully request that the WHO and IARC not permit any conflicts of interests amongst the scientists, doctors, policy making/administrating officials, or anyone serving in any other capacity determining classifications of carcinogenicity and policy decisions regarding EMFs and Cancer.
  • Specifically we respectfully request that any scientist, doctor, policy making/administrating official, or anyone serving in any capacity in WHO and IARC not receive now or in the near future any monetary compensation from the wireless industry or any company that produces products that emit or receive RF radiation or benefit from such products or companies – in the form of research grants, consulting fees or any other form of compensation including payments to any relative of the scientist or colleague in close association.


We respectfully request that these conflicts be vehemently policed and monitored to maintain the integrity of the classifications, assure absolute transparency and ensure safety of the public.

According to Dr. Lennart Hardell, MD, PhD, and oncologist:

“Based on the Hill criteria, glioma and acoustic neuroma should be considered to be caused by RF-EMF emissions from wireless phones and regarded as carcinogenic to humans, classifying it as group 1 according to the IARC classification. Current guidelines for exposure need to be urgently revised.”

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.

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.

MTHR 2012

Recently the English report Mobile Telecommunications and Health Research Programme (MTHR) 2012 was mentioned in the ISPreview. The full report can be found here.

It is somewhat curious that the report is dated 2012 and published in 2013. It has so far not gained any media or other notice. The more remarkable is the conclusion on cancer risks from use of mobile phones at page 7 in the report:

”Future directions

Taken together, the studies discussed in this section and those of section 2 of the MTHR Report 2007 do not suggest that exposure to mobile phone signals is associated with an increased risk of cancer.”

This conclusion is based on ignorance and wishful thinking. There is no scientific discussion of the evidence that would support such a conclusion. No reference is given to the relevant literature. One example is that no of our numerous publications on brain tumour risk associated with use of wireless phones is discussed or included in the reference list. No discussion of cordless phones is made. No reference is given to the IARC evaluation in May 2011 of radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (RF-EMF) concluding the category Group 2B, possible human carcinogen for such exposure.

The previous MTHR publication in 2007 had a more thorough discussion concluding that long-term exposure data are needed and that an increased risk with longer time of use can not be excluded. In fact our further studies have supported such an association. The 2007 report did also discuss cordless phones.

MTHR 2012 has so large scientific deficits that it can not be taken at face value and as a clean bill of no cancer risks from RF-EMF. It deserves no attention and it is a pity that tax payers’ money is used in such a biased way. By excluding a large body of scientific literature any false conclusion can be drawn. On the other hand – not to discuss our studies shows the strength of our findings since obviously there is no scientific base to discredit the findings. Thus the only remaining option is to exclude them so as to be able to present a conclusion that even might be pre-determined.

Measurements of radiofrequency fields in outdoor environments

A novel mobile monitoring system was used to measure outdoor radiofrequency fields (RF) in Sweden recently published in Bioelectromagnetics. The system was car based and the frequency covered was 30 MHz to 3 GHz.

In total more than 70,000 measurements were made. According to Table 1 in the article the following results were obtained:

Rural area                       Urban                        Stockholm

Median (μW/m2)                                                16                            270                               2,600

Arithmetic mean (μW/m2)                               230                         1,500                               6,700

Most of the radiation comes from base stations for mobile phones, 2G and 3G (UMTS). Unfortunately the range of measurements is not given. Especially high values are found in Stockholm. These results can be compared with the evaluation in BioInitiative Report 2012 especially regarding biological effects of RF-EMF:

 ‘A scientific benchmark of 0.003 uW/cm2 or three nanowatts per centimeter squared for ‘lowest observed effect level’ for RFR is based on mobile phone base station-level studies.’