Accumulated evidence now strong enough: RF fields should be classified 2A or “probable carcinogen.” No regulatory agency accounting for biological effects.

By Dr. Mercola

December 19, 2013

(Following is edited for length, from

Mounting research raises tremendously important questions about the long-term safety of saturating ourselves in electromagnetic frequencies. As a result, at least a dozen countries around the world have begun to adopt a precautionary approach toward cell phone use and other wireless technologies.

The World Health Organization (WHO)/International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified radiofrequency electromagnetic fields as “possibly carcinogenic to humans” (Class 2B) in May of 2011.11 The classification—which also covers lead and chloroform—came in part in response to research showing wireless telephones increase the risk for brain cancer.

Since then, additional research has further strengthened the link between cancer and radiofrequency (RF) fields. According to Dr. Anthony Miller, who was on the IARC committee, the accumulated evidence is now strong enough to suggest RF fields really should be classified as a 2A or “probable carcinogen.”


With Whom Does Responsibility of Safety Reside?

Alas, in the US, both the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) have chosen to ignore the evidence of health risks associated with cell phones. As noted by the Environmental Working Group in a recent guide4 to safer cell phone usage: 

“The FCC adopted radiation standards developed by the cell phone industry 17 years ago. These standards, still in use, allow 20 times more radiation to reach the head than the rest of the body. They do not account for risks to children.”

Camilla Rees, MBA of says clarification is also needed about where exactly responsibility and accountability reside on this subject between the FCC and FDA:


“If the FCC says it relies on the safety expertise of the FDA, and states it considered opinions from the FDA in setting its safety guidelines, but the FDA officially does not review the safety of radiation-emitting consumer products such as cell phones and PDAs before they can be sold, as it does with new drugs or medical devices, then where is the responsibility for assuring safety actually domiciled?”


She asks, in a long piece on this subject:

“On what basis does the FCC, a communications commission charged with regulating interstate and international communications, not a health agency, have authority to ascertain safety and establish safety guidelines, such as the SAR limit for cell phones, in the first place? On what basis has the FCC assumed this responsibility?”

No Regulatory Agency Currently Looks at Biological Effects…


If the SAR value is a measure of the power or heating effects from a phone, and is a physics measure unrelated to biology, what regulatory agency is looking at thebiological effects? This would include biological effects from all forms of radiation being emitted by a cell phone, including

  1. The heating effects (that the SAR attempts to reflect)
  2. Non-heating effects from the frequencies and modulation, and
  3. Low frequency (ELF) fields emitted by the devices.

Has responsibility and accountability on this issue conveniently fallen through the cracks? Parallels can and have been drawn between the tobacco industry’s longstanding efforts to hide the truth about the health effects of smoking, and the wireless industry’s denial’s of harm without evidence of safety—and despite a plethora of scientific evidence of harm!

Frequent Cell Phone Use Promotes Anxiety and Poor Academic Performance

In one recent study, researchers from the College of Education, Health and Human Services at Kent State University in Ohio reported that frequent cell phone use appears to be associated with reduced academic performance, anxiety and unhappiness in college students. As reported by Medical News Today:5


“Not decrying the usefulness of the smartphone to today’s college students, which allows them to stay in touch with family and friends and easily browse the Internet, the researchers suggest there is merit in considering what potential harms they may pose.”


The study, published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior6 surveyed more than 500 college students to assess their cell phone usage and then compared it to their grades and clinical anxiety- and life-satisfaction testsCell phone usage levels were linked to both GPA scores and anxiety levels in a “dose” dependent manner. The higher a student’s cell phone use, the lower their grades and the higher their reported anxiety level.


While it could be argued that perhaps people who are more anxious tend to spend more time on their smartphones, or that fiddling around on your phone too much will have a more or less obvious adverse effect on your academic performance, the authors urge students to consider the impact their cell phone use may be having on their grades, mental health and well-being.

This includes negative effects on activity levels. Earlier this year, researchers from the same University found that higher cell phone use was linked with reduced physical activity and fitness.7 Apparently, portability does not mean that people actually use them while staying active… According to the authors, “their findings suggest that cell phone use may be able to gauge a person’s risk for a multitude of health issues related to an inactive lifestyle.”

Can Cell Phones Cause Cancer?

While still lagging behind many other countries, local authorities around the US are starting to pay more attention to these issues. For example, in November, 2012 the city of Pembroke Pines, Florida passed a resolution to warn its residents about the potential risk of cancer related to cell phone radiation. As reported by WCSH68 at the time:


“The resolution, believed to be the first of its kind in the state, encourages residents to keep their cellphones at least one-inch away from their bodies, use a headset or speakerphone and send messages by text or email… The resolution was passed after resident Jimmy Gonzalez told the commission about his brush with cancer, which he believes was caused by his cell phone.

Gonzalez had a cancerous tumor above his left ear removed in August 2011, a year after he’d had another tumor removed from his left hand. Gonzalez, an attorney who used to use his cellphone for several hours a day, is now cancer-free. “Do I have 100 percent scientific study that can say well this is what caused it?” Gonzalez said. “No, but I can’t think of anything that would explain this otherwise.”


I believe such concerns are valid. While the reporter of that story did not mention any of the evidence supporting Gonzalez’ suspicion, mounting research indeed suggests there is such a link. For example, a review of 11 long-term epidemiologic studies published in the journal Surgical Neurology9 by leading international brain surgeons and scientists revealed that using a cell phone for 10 years or longer approximately doubles your risk of being diagnosed with a brain tumor on the same side of the head where the cell phone is typically held.

Professor Mild, lead researcher of that particular study, cautioned that the danger may be even greater than what they found because cancers need a minimum of 10 years to develop.  Children and teens are at greatest risk, as their thinner skulls allow more radiation to penetrate into their brains.10 Lloyd Morgan, Senior Research Fellow, Environmental Health Trust, says,


“There are many studies which have significant risks brain cancer, acoustic neuroma, parotid gland cancer, and leukemia from wireless (cell and cordless) phone use. In totality, there is strong evidence for each of these tumors. I am convinced that this will lead to a pandemic of wireless phone induced tumors. While there is a decades long average latency time (30-40 years for brain cancer), we have already seen a doubled risk of glioblastoma in Australia, Denmark, and the United States in the previous 10 years.


“Assuming that long-time use of wireless devices affects 10% of the users with one of more of these cancers (similar to long-term smokers and lung cancer). It would mean, at minimum, 10% of such users will be diagnosed with one or moreof these tumors. Thus, possibly 30% of such users would have at least one of these 4 cancers.


“Should this occur it would create a calamity like the world has not seen since the black plagues of the 13th century. Maybe it will only be 5% or even 1%. No matter the assumption, the result will have profound ramifications for our society.”

At the program on “Cell Phones & WiFi: Are Children, Fetuses and Fertility at Risk” in June, leading NY State public health physician, Dr. David Carpenter, MD, said, “The strongest evidence for EMF effects are the science showing the connection between cell phone use and brain cancer. Brain cancer rates are double for people who’ve been using cell phones for 10 years or more, appearing on the side of the head where they hold their phones, and risks are 5x greater for children using cell phones under the age of 20 compared to those over the age of 50.”

Radiofrequency Fields Currently Classified as “Possibly Carcinogenic”

More importantly—and I cannot fathom how WCSH6 (Who is this?) missed this one—the World Health Organization (WHO)/International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified radiofrequency electromagnetic fields as “possibly carcinogenic to humans” (Class 2B) in May of 2011.11 The classification—which also covers lead and chloroform—came in part in response to research showing wireless telephones increase the risk for brain cancer. According to the press release:12


“Dr Jonathan Samet (University of Southern California, USA), overall Chairman of the Working Group, indicated that “the evidence, while still accumulating, is strong enough to support a conclusion and the 2B classification. The conclusion means that there could be some risk, and therefore we need to keep a close watch for a link between cell phones and cancer risk.”


“Given the potential consequences for public health of this classification and findings,” said IARC Director Christopher Wild, “it is important that additional research be conducted into the longterm, heavy use of mobile phones. Pending the availability of such information, it is important to take pragmatic measures to reduce exposure such as handsfree devices or texting. “

Since then, additional research has further strengthened the link between cancer and radiofrequency (RF) fields. According to Dr. Anthony Miller, who was on the IARC committee, the accumulated evidence is now strong enough to suggest RF fields really should be classified as a 2A or “probable carcinogen.”

A study published in September 2013, “Case-control study of the association between malignant brain tumors diagnosed between 2007 and 2009 and mobile and cordless phone use” by Hardell et al also confirmed previously reported results showing an association between cell phones and malignant brain tumors, suggesting RFs from cell phones may play a role in both the initiation and promotion of cancer.

And another study by Hardell et al, published in December 2013, used the Bradford Hill criteria for establishing causality in long-term users of cell phones, showed that the evidence available suggests that RF-EMF exposure from mobile (and cordless) phones should be regarded as an IARC class 1 human carcinogen. Alasdair Philips of Powerwatch (U.K.) says, “The criteria on strength, consistency, specificity, temporality, and biologic gradient for evidence of increased risk for glioma and acoustic neuroma were fulfilled.”

To learn more, I highly recommend listening to the excellent Media Teleclass on Cellphones and Brain Tumors moderated by Camilla Rees, MBA of Listen for yourself to experts who are independent of the telecom industry and close to the science. The teleclass features Devra Davis, PhD, MPH, David Carpenter, MD, Lloyd Morgan, BS and Joel Moskowitz, PhD.

Other Health Hazards Linked to Cell Phone Use

Experts in the area of the biological effects of electromagnetic frequencies (EMF) and wireless technologies believe there’s virtually no doubt that cell phones and related gadgets are capable of causing not only cancer but contributing to a wide variety of other conditions, from depression and diabetes to heart irregularities and impaired fertility.  For example, the French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health13 (ANSES) recently published an expert appraisal and risk assessment of radiofrequencies, linking cell phone use to:

  • Sleep disturbances
  • Male infertility
  • Cognitive problems
  • Brain Tumors

In their 2-year review of the RF science (10/15/13), where they warn the public to reduce exposure to mobile phone radiation, they say:

“…Against a background of rapid development of technologies and practices, ANSES recommends limiting the population’s exposure to radiofrequencies – in particular from mobile phones – especially for children and intensive users, and controlling the overall exposure that results from mobile phone masts.”

Regarding wireless devices, ANSES says:

  • For intensive adult mobile phone users (in talk mode): use of hands-free kits and more generally, for all users, favoring the purchase of phones with the lowest SAR values
  • That all common devices emitting electromagnetic fields intended for use near the body (DECT telephones, tablet computers, baby monitors, etc.) display the maximum level of exposure generated (SAR, for example), as is already the case for mobile phones.

Regarding ambient fields, ANSES has recommended:

Ambient RF:

  • Reducing the exposure of children by encouraging only moderate use of mobile phones
  • Continuing to improve characterisation of population exposure in outdoor and indoor environments through the use of measurement campaigns
  • New mobile phone network infrastructures be subject to prior studies concerning the characterisation of exposures
  • Study of consequences of multiplying the number of relay antennas in order to reduce levels of environmental exposure
  • Documenting existing installations causing the highest exposure to the public and investigating how these exposures can be reduced by technical means

One 2008 study 14 linked cell phone use to an 80 percent increased risk of emotional problems and hyperactivity in children.  Scientists have also found that microwaves transmitted by cell phones and other wireless devices can:

Harm your blood cells Damage your eyes
Damage your DNA Contribute to salivary gland tumors
Cause nerve cell damage15 Cause decreased bone density in the pelvic region
Possibly accelerate and contribute to onset of autism Lead to electromagnetic hypersensitivity
Trigger Alzheimer’s disease Affect your heart rate and blood pressure


How is all of this possible? In a nutshell, human beings are influenced by all kinds of electromagnetic fields. Energy, frequencies, sounds, and vibrations are all around us, even if you can’t hear them, see them or sense them in any way, and they can have a profound impact on your health. Those found in nature can be profoundly healing. But today, these natural frequencies and rhythms are being drowned out by wholly unnatural wireless transmissions and emissions. Michael Gilbert, a leading New York integrative health practitioner, explains, from a nervous system persective, why the energy from wireless devices is harmful, how we can actively work with our nervous systems to modulate this unnatural energy, and why cultivating variability in our lives is essential in a wireless age:


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