International Agency for Research on Cancer
IARC classification of RF EMF
In May 2011 IARC classified radio frequency electromagnetic fields as possibly carcinogenic to humans (Group 2B), based on an increased risk for glioma, a malignant type of brain cancer associated with wireless phone use.
The IARC website lists 285 agents classified as group 2B including RF fields, coffee, gasoline engine exhaust, pickled vegetables, ELF magnetic fields and styrene.
The IARC provides the following summary of the classification:
"The evidence was reviewed critically, and overall evaluated as being limited among users of wireless telephones for glioma and acoustic neuroma, and inadequate to draw conclusions for other types of cancers. The evidence from the occupational and environmental exposures mentioned above was similarly judged inadequate."
"Limited evidence of carcinogenicity means a positive association has been observed between exposure to the agent and cancer for which a causal interpretation is considered by the Working Group to be credible, but chance, bias or confounding could not be ruled out with reasonable confidence."
"Inadequate evidence of carcinogenicity means the available studies are of insufficient quality, consistency or statistical power to permit a conclusion regarding the presence or absence of a causal association between exposure and cancer, or no data on cancer in humans are available."
"Given the potential consequences for public health of this classification and findings,....it is important that additional research be conducted into the long- term, heavy use of mobile phones. Pending the availability of such information, it is important to take pragmatic measures to reduce exposure such as hands free devices or texting."
Source: IARC press release 31st May 2011
Summary of the IARC classification of RF EMF
The WHO has provided the following summary of the IARC classification of radio frequency electromagnetic fields:
"The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified radiofrequency electromagnetic fields as possibly carcinogenic to humans (Group 2B), a category used when a causal association is considered credible, but when chance, bias or confounding cannot be ruled out with reasonable confidence."
Source: WHO Fact sheet 193 June 2011
In terms of what the IARC 2B classification means, the WHO summarises this as:
IARC World Cancer Report 2014
In 2014, IARC published the World Cancer Report and say that the most significant causes of all head and neck cancers are tobacco use and alcohol consumption. These exposures account for the development of approximately 80% of such cancers globally. Brain tumours account for less than 2% of the overall human cancer burden.
In terms of mobile phones and cancer, and environmental exposures from transmitters the World Cancer Report 2014 says:
"No consistent association has been found between use of mobile (cell) phones and brain tumours"
"Therapeutic ionizing radiation is the only proven cause of brain cancer. The use of mobile phones remains under investigation"
"Associations between heavy use of mobile phones and certain brain cancers have been observed, but causal interpretation is controversial; more data are needed, particularly on longer-term use of mobile phones."
"With regard to environmental exposures from transmitters, including television, radio, and military transmissions as well as mobile phone networks, the evidence is inadequate due to lack of high-quality studies with accurate individual exposure assessment,"
Source: IARC World Cancer Report 2014