World Health Organization: Cell phones as big a risk as "lead, engine exhaust, and chloroform"

After a meeting with scientists from around the world, the World Health Organization announced this morning that it has now categorized cell phone radiation as a "possible carcinogenic hazard." This is a label that the WHO has also placed on lead, engine exhaust, and chloroform. The WHO says in a release that this new warning is "based on an increased risk for glioma, a malignant type of brain cancer, associated with wireless phone use."

According to CNN:

A team of 31 scientists from 14 countries, including the United States, made the decision after reviewing peer-reviewed studies on cell phone safety. The team found enough evidence to categorize personal exposure as "possibly carcinogenic to humans" . . .

"When you look at cancer development — particularly brain cancer — it takes a long time to develop. I think it is a good idea to give the public some sort of warning that long-term exposure to radiation from your cell phone could possibly cause cancer," said Dr. Henry Lai, research professor in bioengineering at University of Washington who has studied radiation for over 30 years.

Though there are no long-range studies that offer irrefutable proof that there is a link between cell phone use and cancer, WHO scientists believe there is enough evidence of a link that the public should be warned, and urged not to hold cell phones close to their bodies.

World Health Organization: Cell phones as big a risk as "lead, engine exhaust, and chloroform"

Instead of storing phones in pockets or on belts, it's better to carry them in a bag or something that keeps them at least an inch from your body. (Both iPhone and Blackberry manuals already recommend this.) Also, the WHO recommends using "hands free devices" like headsets to talk on the phone, or texting rather than calling, both of which can help reduce risks for glioma.

You can read a PDF of the WHO's announcement here.