When A+B = C
CELLPHONE users have every right to be befuddled. Just last year, a major study in 13 countries found no clear evidence that exposure to the radiation from cellphones caused brain cancer. Yet, last week, a panel convened by the same agency, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), declared that the radiation was “possibly carcinogenic” to humans.
It made this pronouncement by press release before publishing a monograph that will lay out the basis for its concerns – and will give independent scientists their first chance to evaluate this new judgement.
The agency, a unit of the World Health Organisation, based its determination on what it called “limited evidence” that heavy users of cellphones had an increased risk of developing a rare brain tumour known as a glioma. Cellphones were placed in a “possibly carcinogenic” category that also included pesticides, dry-cleaning chemicals, engine exhaust fumes, lead, pickled vegetables and coffee.
The IARC is a respected organisation whose judgements influence regulatory policies in many nations. Still, many experts remain dubious. Despite a huge upsurge in cellphone use over the past two decades, brain cancer rates in the US have been declining. Scientists are mostly stumped as to how the radio frequency waves emitted by cellphones might cause cancer. – The New York Times