In a May 2011 press release, the WHO/International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified radiofrequency electromagnetic fields as a possible human carcinogen due to an increased risk of a malignant brain cancer known as glioma. The IARC report associates cell phone use with an increase in glioma cases. A group of 31 scientists from 14 countries has met in Lyon, France to discuss and assess the potential dangers of continued exposure to these fields.
Does Everything Cause Cancer These Days?
It seems as if the major news media outlets report a new cause for cancer almost daily. In listening to these reports, people become fatigued, feeling hopeless and as if they may as well ignore any and all reports on carcinogenic agents. This is a dangerous attitude. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services smoking is directly attributable to 30 percent of cancer deaths and obesity to 20 percent. People can greatly reduce their cancer risk from these by stopping smoking, exercising, and eating a balanced diet.
Now the new Group 2B classification of radiofrequency electromagnetic fields marks cell phones and other wireless devices as possibly carcinogenic in humans. The 2B classification can mean that research has found inadequate evidence of carcinogenicity in humans, but sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity in animals. The IARC may classify agents in the 2B category for a number of other reasons as well, including strong evidence from mechanistic or other correlative data. Must Americans now give up their beloved high-tech gadgets?
Are Cell Phone Concerns Valid?
According to Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD. and best-selling author of “Zapped”, concerns over the hazards of electronic pollution are well founded and valid. In my recent interview with her, Gittleman said, “A precautionary approach is best in case we learn down the line that these electromagnetic fields adversely affect the brains and hearts of humans.” She goes on to emphasize that the topic deserves far more research and attention than it has been given in the past. Gittleman is under no illusion that Americans are going to give up their cell phones and other wireless gadgets any time soon. She states that additional research can provide us with the information needed to safely live with these high-tech devices.
Wireless Device Dangers
Anything wireless is suspect when it comes to possible dangers and increased cancer risks. The IARC Working Group of international scientists did not quantify the risks, but a recent study of past cell phone use up to 2004, conducted by the Interphone Study Group showed a 40 percent increased risk of gliomas for those using cell phones for 30 minutes or more daily over a ten year period. Other studies show an increase in acoustic neuromas, which are benign tumors of the nerve connecting the ear to the brain, from extensive use of wireless devices, such as blue-tooth headsets. About blue-tooth devices Dr. Gittleman had this to say, “Blue-tooth brings up an additional red flag as the wireless frequencies, produced by these devices, go directly into the ear.”
Keeping Yourself and Your Family Safe
Gittleman has uncovered some of the hidden dangers lurking in the home and everyday life as well as how to minimize and prevent adverse effects from them. Don’t get Zapped! Follow these simple safety tips taken from her book and my interview with her:
- Go retro and get a corded phone. Cordless phones are even more hazardous than cell phones. They constantly emit electromagnetic frequencies (EMFs). Having a cordless phone is like having a cell tower in your own home.
- Move your bed or couch if they are on a wall behind your refrigerator, and try not to have your bed in a room over a ceiling fan.
- Avoid using mobile phones in a confined space like the car, elevator, or subway. In these confined spaces, the phone needs to work much harder to get a signal, causing the power level to increase.
- Keep cell phones at least 7 to 8 inches from the body. Use a wired earpiece to accomplish this or air tube headsets, which reduce radiation at the head significantly.
- Children should use a wired phone (landline) when making calls. Read more about the dangers of EMFs to children in Gittleman’s book.
- Use a hard-wired Internet router rather than the popular wireless units used so often today.
- When travelling, try to stay in hotels without Wi-Fi.
- Many coffee houses and other similar establishments are Internet hotspots, meaning they provide wireless Internet for customer use. Get your coffee or snack and leave rather than sitting and conducting business using their Wi-Fi connection.
Dr. Gittleman has a very personal reason behind her efforts to educate the public about the dangers of EMF emissions. She developed a tumor in her parotid gland, which was caused by her cell phone use. Startled by this revelation, she began her journey to inform people about this silent danger.
Other Voices Speak Out About EMF Dangers
Dr. Jeffery Morrison, a medical doctor and best selling author of “Cleanse Your Body, Clear Your Mind”, also states that concerns over cell phone use and other devices that emit EMFs are valid. Morrison says, “Cell phones generate an electromagnetic field that is almost like the ionizing radiation from X-rays, but at a much lower dose. Certain people are getting a lot of exposure to this [EMFs] and it accumulates in their bodies.” He advocates the following tips to mitigate the risks associated with cell phone use:
- Use a hands-free system for speaking on the cell phone in the car. People can have these hard-wired into their vehicles
- Use the cell phone built-in microphone option whenever possible
- Get a landline installed in the home
- Corded ear buds offer a low-cost option for those hoping to reduce risk, but don’t lay the cell phone in your lap while using them.
Morrison goes on to remark, “Since the WHO labeled EMFs as possibly carcinogenic to humans, this puts them in the same category as DDT, lead, and gasoline. People should take notice.”
Dr. Morrison uses a unique combination of Environmental and Conventional Medicine in his practice. He strives to help patients revitalize their bodies and minds by transforming the way they think about things they eat and purchase. His medical training and training as a Nutrition Specialist have lead him to create his highly effective program Daily Benefit to help people achieve ideal health through diet detoxification.
People should take the concerns about EMF emissions and the IARC assessment seriously. As time passes, evidence that corroborates or refutes the concerns will emerge. Until then, people would be wise to heed the warnings of experts, such as Drs. Gittleman and Morrison.
“Acoustic neuroma – PubMed Health.” National Center for Biotechnology Information. Pub Med Health, 24 May 2010. Web. 14 June 2011. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001782/>.
Gittleman, PhD., Ann Louise. Zapped. New York City: Harper Collins, 2010. Print.
“IARC CLASSIFIES RADIOFREQUENCY ELECTROMAGNETIC FIELDS AS POSSIBLY CARCINOGENIC TO HUMANS.” International Agency for Research on Cancer. N.p., 31 May 2011. Web. 14 June 2011. <www.iarc.fr/en/media-centre/pr/2011/pdfs/pr208_E.pdf>.
Largavaara,, S., et al, “Location of Gliomas in Relation to Mobile Telephon… [Am J Epidemiol. 2011] – PubMed result.” National Center for Biotechnology Information. PubMed, n.d. Web. 14 June 2011. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21610117>.