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Taipei City Hospital


Will Mobile Phones Cause Cancer?

Mobile phones are an indispensable tool in modern life. People use their mobile phones anytime and anywhere, at home or on public transportation. Will a mobile phone cause cancer? Many media and instant messengers have reported recently that the WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has listed the mobile phone among Group 2B carcinogens since 2011, repeatedly causing panic.

Lu Min-Ji, attending physician of the Hematology and Oncology Department in the Ren’ai Branch of Taipei City Hospital, points out that mobile phones have been listed among Group 2B carcinogens according to the classification of IARC. Group 2B carcinogens are considered possible carcinogens because “there is evidence in animal tests to suggest carcinogenicity, but not enough evidence in human experiments.” The rumor that electromagnetic waves are carcinogenic started in 1979, but there has been no reliable evidence to support the rumor in the past 36 years. Moreover, the extremely low power of the electromagnetic waves produced by mobile phones did not damage DNA in the laboratory. Therefore, there is no scientific evidence at present to suggest that the electromagnetic waves from mobile phones are carcinogenic or can cause brain tumors.

Lu Min-Ji says that these reports are usually based on epidemiologic studies, which are retrospective and accompanied by many interference factors, so the causality cannot be confirmed. Humans began using mobile phones in 1990, and the number of users and the length of use time have increased many fold in the past 25 years, while the incidence of brain tumors and other cancers has not increased significantly. Thus, it can be reasonably assumed that the carcinogenic risk of mobile phones is very low, far lower than that caused by smoking and obesity.