Health Team

Reactions mixed to cellphone-cancer finding

Posted June 1, 2011 7:39 p.m. EDT
Updated June 1, 2011 7:44 p.m. EDT

— Local cellphone retailers aren't commenting on the World Health Organization's latest findings that cellphones can possibly cause cancer, but store employees say hands-free devices appear to be selling as a result.

The classification was issued Tuesday in Lyon, France, by the International Agency for Research on Cancer after a review of dozens of published studies.

The agency is an arm of the World Health Organization and its assessment now goes to WHO and national health agencies for possible guidance on cellphone use.

Classifying agents as "possibly carcinogenic" doesn't mean they automatically cause cancer and some experts said the ruling shouldn't change people's cellphone habits.

The cellphone industry group, CTIA Wireless Association, is disregarding the new carcinogenic listing, saying the organization "in the past has given the same score to, for example, pickled vegetables and coffee."

Pamela Huff isn't taking any chances. She bought earbuds Monday on the way to taking her college-aged son to the airport to go back to school.

The WHO's announcement is exactly why she's writing a thesis at Duke University on brain MRIs.

"We have some real scientific data that supports the fact that cellphone use could interfere with your brain, and your brain is important," Huff said.

Experts say that if cellphone users don't use hands-free devices, they should at least try to avoid using their phones in places, such as elevators or rural areas. Cellphones emit the most radiation when they have to work hard to connect to a cellular tower.