Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Mobile phone radiation a possible cancer risk - WHO

It might as well be "Dr. Who". Their actual conclusion? "There could be some risk". There could be some risk in using paperclips too. This is a nothing statement made to satisfy the enemies of everything popular

RADIATION from mobile phones may cause brain cancer and people should use texting and free-hands devices to reduce exposure, the World Health Organisation has declared.

The warning is based on evidence that intensive use of mobile phones and other wireless devices might lead to an increased risk of glioma, a malignant form of brain cancer.

WHO's the International Agency for Research on Cancer concluded that the radio frequency electromagnetic fields generated by such devices was "possibly carcinogenic to humans".

Does the WHO warning make you more wary about using a mobile phone? Tell us below in comments

WHO had previously said that there were no ill-effects from mobile phone use.

A team of 31 scientists from 14 countries made the warning after assessing hundreds of published studies into the potential cancer risks posed by electromagnetic fields.

The scientists said there was not enough evidence to conclude that radiation from mobile phones was safe, but there was enough data to show a possible connection to tumours.

Evidence of harm

Jonathan Samet, who chaired a meeting of the scientists in the French city of Lyon, said: "The conclusion means that there could be some risk, and therefore we need to keep a close watch for a link between cellphones and cancer."

The WHO has put mobile phone radiation on a par with about 240 other agents for which evidence of harm is uncertain, including talcum powder, working in a dry cleaner's, pesticide DDT, petrol engine exhaust and coffee.

Two studies in particular, the largest conducted over the last decade, provided evidence that mobile phone use was associated with higher rates of glioma, "particularly in those that had the most intensive use of such phones", Dr Samet said.

A number of individuals tracked in the studies had used their phones for 10 to 15 years. "We simply don't know what might happen as people use their phones over longer time periods, possible over a lifetime," he said.

Brain cancer

There are about five billion mobile phones registered in the world. Both the number of phones in circulation, and the average time spent using them, have climbed steadily in recent years, the working group found.

The IARC cautioned that their review of scientific evidence showed only a possible link, not a proven one, between wireless devices and cancers. "There is some evidence of increased risk of glioma" and another form of brain cancer called acoustic neuroma, said Kurt Straif, the scientist in charge of editing the IARC reports on potentially carcinogenic agents.

"But it is not at the moment clearly established that the use of mobile phones does in fact cause cancer in humans," he said in a telephone press conference.

The IARC does not issue formal recommendations, but pointed to a number of ways consumers can reduce risk.

"What probably entails some of the highest exposure is using your mobile for voice calls," Dr Straif said.

"If you use it for texting, or as a hands-free set for voice calls, this is clearly lowering the exposure by at least an order of magnitude," or by ten fold, he said.

A year ago the IARC concluded in a major report that there was no link between mobile phones and brain cancer, but the review was widely criticised as based on out-of-date data that did not correspond to current usage levels.

The new review, conducted by a panel of 31 scientists from 14 countries, was based on a "full consensus," said Robert Baan, in charge of the written report, yet to be released.

Exposure data, studies of cancer in humans, experiments on animals and other data were all evaluated in establishing the new classification.

The IARC ranks potentially cancer-causing elements as either carcinogenic, probably carcinogenic, possibly carcinogenic or "probably not carcinogenic." It can also determine that a material is "not classifiable".

Cigarettes and sunbeds, for examples, are rated as "group 1", the top threat category.


Cannabis use 'damages the brain in early teens', frightening new study reveals

This could just mean that only dummies start using pot early

Children who smoke cannabis before their 15th birthday perform much worse in mental tests than those who start at a later age, warn researchers. A study of chronic cannabis users found those who started in their early teens struggled with a range of neuropsychological tasks.

But those who started later did not have the same difficulties, says a study published in the British Journal of Psychiatry.

The findings add to growing evidence that the drug damages the developing brain, with greater harm caused by early exposure.

Marijuana is the most common illicit drug among adolescents in the UK with more than four in ten admitting having taken it.

Research carried out at the Federal University of Sao Paulo in Brazil looked at the mental functioning of 100 cannabis users after around ten years of consistent use, and almost 50 non-users.

They found 49 ‘early’ users whose habit began before the age of 15 were much worse at sustained attention, impulse control and executive functioning. In a card-sorting test they made many more errors than 55 youngsters who got the habit later and 44 people who had never taken the drug.

Lead researcher Dr Maria Fontes said: ‘We found that early-onset, but not late-onset, chronic cannabis users had deficits in their cognitive functioning. ‘Adolescence is a period in which the brain appears to be particularly vulnerable to the neurotoxic effects of cannabis. ‘The brain before the age of 15 is still developing and maturing, so exposure to cannabis during this period may be more harmful.’

On average, the early-onset group had used cannabis for 10.9 years – equating to a lifetime consumption of 6,790 joints each.


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