Wireless Industry Questions WHO Report on Mobile Phone Cancer Risk

By Brian T. Horowitz  |  Posted 2011-06-02 Print this article Print

title=Mobile Phone Use While Driving Is More Dangerous}

More research will be needed before the relationship between cell phones and cancer is clear, according to tech industry experts. 

"They've drawn some conclusions based on some of the other studies that have been published, but clearly a lot more research needs to be done, not only on adults but on children as well," Gregg Malkary, founder and managing director of Spyglass Consulting Group, told eWEEK.

"First, folks need to realize that this study just shows there is a good reason to do additional studies; it isn't definitive, and that, to date, all of the definitive studies have shown no relationship to cancer," Rob Enderle, principal analyst for Enderle Group, wrote in an email to eWEEK. "They do indicate that the phones do change things in the brain but have been unable to explain what the repercussions of those changes are." 

If there were a hard link between brain cancer and mobile phones, the number of cancer cases would be "massive," Enderle noted. Because of a lack of related brain-cancer cases, the link either doesn't exist or more time is needed to study the connection, he said. 

Perhaps, a bigger health risk from mobile phones arises from using mobile phones while driving or even crossing the street. "There is actually a vastly bigger cell phone risk, and that comes from using the device while moving where the phones have caused accidents and death," Enderle said. 

"Right now, I think folks should monitor this and likely limit cell phone use by young children (for a lot of reasons), but otherwise shouldn't be too concerned with cancer risks from cell phone use as there is, as yet, no proof of a connection," he added.  

Although some mobile users may turn to Bluetooth headsets in the wake of the IARC report, most users won't change their mobile habits, according to experts. "If you're a high-powered user, you're a doctor, you're a salesperson, you're dependent on your phone," Malkary said.

"I don't believe it will make much of a difference," agreed Shahid Shah, CEO of IT consulting firm Netspective Communications and author of the Healthcare IT Guy blog, wrote in an email to eWEEK. "For one, many scientists disagree with the WHO report-there's a bit of scientific discrepancy, so we're not going to get enough agreement for it to drive significant behavior change in consumers." 

Innovation in the wireless industry will certainly continue as well, Malkary noted.

"I don't think this is going to slow down any of the innovations that are taking place today in terms of the use of communications in business or health care for that manner," he said. "That's a gravy train that continues to plow forward, particularly with the emergence of more unified-communications solutions to help improve communications and collaboration."


Brian T. Horowitz is a freelance technology and health writer as well as a copy editor. Brian has worked on the tech beat since 1996 and covered health care IT and rugged mobile computing for eWEEK since 2010. He has contributed to more than 20 publications, including Computer Shopper, Fast Company, FOXNews.com, More, NYSE Magazine, Parents, ScientificAmerican.com, USA Weekend and Womansday.com, as well as other consumer and trade publications. Brian holds a B.A. from Hofstra University in New York.

Follow him on Twitter: @bthorowitz


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