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07 September 2018

Cancer epidemiology update, following the 2011 IARC evaluation of radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (Monograph 102)

UPDATE:  We have added the synthesis and conclusions of the study.

"Based on the evidence reviewed it is our opinion that IARC's current categorization of RFR as a possible human carcinogen (Group 2B) should be upgraded to Carcinogenic to Humans (Group 1)."

(We had access to the full text, but the person who posted the link on Facebook took it down.)

Cancer epidemiology update, following the 2011 IARC evaluation of radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (Monograph 102)
Anthony B. Miller a, L. Lloyd  Morgan b, Iris Udasin c, Devra Lee Davis d, e

a Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto, Canada 
b Environmental Health Trust, Berkeley, CA, United States
c Rutgers University School of Public Health, United States
d Environmental Health Trust, Teton Village, WY, United States
e Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel

Environmental Research, available online 6 September 2018, in press, corrected proof


• Increased risk of brain, vestibular nerve and salivary gland tumors are associated with mobile phone use.
• Nine studies (2011–2017) report increased risk of brain cancer from mobile phone use. 
• Four case-control studies (3 in 2013, 1 in 2014) report increased risk of vestibular nerve tumors.  
• Concern for other cancers: breast (male & female), testis, leukemia, and thyroid. 
• Based on the evidence reviewed it is our opinion that IARC's current categorization of RFR as a possible human carcinogen (Group 2B) should be upgraded to Carcinogenic to Humans (Group 1).


Epidemiology studies (case-control, cohort, time trend and case studies) published since the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) 2011 categorization of radiofrequency radiation (RFR) from mobile phones and other wireless devices as a possible human carcinogen (Group 2B) are reviewed and summarized. Glioma is an important human cancer found to be associated with RFR in 9 case-control studies conducted in Sweden and France, as well as in some other countries. Increasing glioma incidence trends have been reported in the UK and other countries. Non-malignant endpoints linked include acousticneuroma (vestibular Schwannoma) and meningioma. Because they allow more detailed consideration of exposure, case-control studies can be superior to cohort studies or other methods in evaluating potential risks for brain cancer. When considered with recent animal experimental evidence, the recent epidemiological studies strengthen and support the conclusion that RFR should be categorized as carcinogenic to humans (IARC Group 1). Opportunistic epidemiological studies are proposed that can be carried out through cross-sectional analyses of high, medium, and low mobile phone users with respect to hearing, vision, memory, reaction time, and other indicators that can easily be assessed through standardized computer-based tests. As exposure data are not uniformly available, billing records should be used whenever available to corroborate reported exposures.

Synthesis and conclusions

The Epidemiological studies reported since the 2011 IARC Working Group meeting are adequate to consider RFR as a probable human carcinogen (Group 2 A). However, they must be supplemented with the recently reported animal data as performed at the Ramazzini Institute and the US National Toxicology Program as well as by mechanistic studies. These experimental findings together with the epidemiology reviewed here are sufficient in our opinion, to upgrade the IARC categorization of RFR to Group 1, carcinogenic to humans.

It would be useful to know more about the association of additional tumor types such as parotid gland, testicular, breast, hematopoietic malignancies and multiple primaries with RFR. Case studies should continue to be conducted in the absence of a better exposure assessment system to increase awareness and understand the relationship between exposure to RFR and disease causation, as well as trial-error experiments and interventions.

In light of the evolving science concerning mobile phone and screen time exposures and the longer-term risk of cancer established by both epidemiological and toxicological studies, current evidence is strong enough to go from precaution concerning possible risk to prevention of known risks. Although the benefits of connectivity are extremely important, safety considerations demand reconciling use of information vs. risk of perceived rare outcomes. Thus, a concerted program of public and health professional education should be undertaken throughout society explaining current knowledge and devising policies to promote safer technology in partnership with designers of software and hardware. In addition, methods should be developed and validated to reduce exposures in schools, workplaces, hospitals and other workplaces. The precautionary principle should be applied now and suitable warning messages provided to adults and critically to children and their parents. Until technology has been devised that substantially lowers exposures, special efforts should be advanced to ensure that the exposures of children are limited to those deemed essential. Children should be encouraged to text to reduce their exposure to RFR, while every attempt should be made to reduce exposure to RFR in schools, as well as homes.

Research has so far been performed on technologies that have already been introduced, but is critically needed on new, untested technology prior to its use. Epidemiological studies necessarily confirm the impact of past exposures, while experimental studies provide indications of future risk. Thus, experimental evaluations and modeling are essential before distributing newer systems (e.g. 5 G) for which no safety data have been obtained. The absence of systematic testing of such technologies should not be confused with proof of safety. Better modeling through anatomically based systems, such as the Virtual Family, should be encouraged.
In the meantime, the evidence amassed thus far from epidemiology strengthens the case for instituting the precautionary principle with respect to exposures to RFR, especially to young children and men and women that wish to reproduce. The lack of detailed studies at this point reflects a myopic attitude toward the technology that may well prove to be wishful and dangerous thinking. Where studies have been carried out on human sperm quantity and quality there are increasing indications of serious human health impacts. To ignore those findings and subject humans to unevaluated novel RFR frequencies places current and future generations at risk.

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