Wireless Industry Responds to Report Linking Cell Phone Use to Cancer

By Beecher Tuttle June 03, 2011

A high ranking AT&T official on Thursday responded to a controversial new report linking cell phone usage to brain cancer, calling it a “serious issue” that needed more study.

However, Ralph de la Vega, chief executive of AT&T Mobility and Consumer Markets, was also quick to point out that Tuesday's report was not based on any new knowledge, but rather on studies that were conducted at least a year ago, according to the AFP.

De la Vega's comments come on the heels of a highly publicized release from the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), which classified radiofrequency electromagnetic fields as “possibly” carcinogenic to humans. The classification came after a week-long conference in Lyon, France, where 31 international scientists from 14 countries reviewed a myriad of studies that looked at the effects of electromagnetic radiation.

“This is a serious issue,” De la Vega said at the All Things Digital D9 conference in California, but “the WHO didn't do any new study.”

“The industry should not have too much to worry about; nevertheless, we should continue to study” the matter, he added, according to the AFP.

Dr. Jonathan Samet and his colleagues from the Working Group at the IARC said that the evidence was strong enough to support a conclusion that there is “some risk“ between cell phone usage and an increased risk of glioma, a malignant form of brain cancer. The group stressed that much more research needs to be conducted to validate the association.

In the meantime, IARC Director Christopher Wild has recommended that cell phone users take “pragmatic measures” to minimize their exposure to electromagnetic radiation, including relying more on texting and hands-free devices.

As expected, the scientific community's response to the report has been mixed. Many researchers – including physicist Bernard Leikind – found the analyzed data to be highly “questionable.”

“They ignore the century of physics research that strongly establishes the facts,” says Leikind in a CNN editorial.

The wireless industry's organization, the CTIA, immediately disparaged the report, noting that the IARC previously categorized pickled vegetables and coffee as possible carcinogens, according to Media Post.

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Beecher Tuttle is a TechZone360 contributor. He has extensive experience writing and editing for print publications and online news websites. He has specialized in a variety of industries, including health care technology, politics and education. To read more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Jennifer Russell

TechZone360 Contributor

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