WHO report: Cell phone radiation can cause cancer

Summary:It's official: cell phone radiation can actually lead to cancer, according to an extensive study by the World Health Organization.

It's official: cell phone radiation can actually lead to cancer, according to an extensive study by the World Health Organization.

WHO's International Agency for Research of Cancer team that worked on the study included 31 scientists from 14 countries. The results, which found that exposure to cell phones are "possibly carcinogenic to humans," aren't entirely shocking but rather sobering more than anything else.

The type of radiation coming out of a cell phone is called non-ionizing. It is not like an X-ray, but more like a very low-powered microwave oven.

"What microwave radiation does in most simplistic terms is similar to what happens to food in microwaves, essentially cooking the brain. So in addition to leading to a development of cancer and tumors, there could be a whole host of other effects like cognitive memory function, since the memory temporal lobes are where we hold our cell phones."

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Additionally, this news comes right up against most major mobile phone manufacturers. Before the announcement hit on Tuesday, CNN reported:

The cell phone industry maintains that there is no conclusive evidence that cell phone radiation impacts users' health and often sites WHO stance on the topic.

However, this is not a black-and-white or yes-or-no kind of issue. More details are expected to follow soon, but the WHO finding does not mean that all cell phone users will develop cancer because of extensive usage. Unfortunately, it will also take years to see the results of extensive cell phone radiation exposure given that mobile phones didn't come into widespread consumer use until the last 10 to 15 years.

Topics: Mobility


Rachel King is a staff writer for CBS Interactive based in San Francisco, covering business and enterprise technology for ZDNet, CNET and SmartPlanet. She has previously worked for The Business Insider, FastCompany.com, CNN's San Francisco bureau and the U.S. Department of State. Rachel has also written for MainStreet.com, Irish Americ... Full Bio

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