UK NHS Response

3 June 2011

Several newspapers have today reported that mobile phones may cause cancer, with the Daily Mail saying that after years of contradictory claims health chiefs have finally delivered ‘an authoritative verdict’ on the matter.

The news comes after the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a division of the World Health Organization (WHO), classified mobile phone use as a possible cause of cancer. After examining a body of evidence on mobile phone use the IARC yesterday announced that it will now classify mobile phone signals as ‘possibly carcinogenic’ due to some study results suggesting a link to some types of brain cancers.

However, the classification means that the link is far from certain, with the IARC saying there is only ‘limited evidence’ of a link to brain tumours in humans, and that the results supporting a link may be due to other factors distorting study data. The IARC also said there is inadequate evidence to support a link to other cancer types.

Overall, this classification should not be taken to mean that there is a definite link between phone use and cancer, only that some initial (possibly anomalous) study results have highlighted a relationship that needs further robust scientific investigation.