News that the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) found a possible link between mobile phones and cancer has caused quite the media uproar. In response, mobile businesses and organizations have highlighted the previous research on the subject and the inconclusive nature of all of the findings.
In a statement, CTIA – The Wireless Association released a statement saying, in part:
IARC conducts numerous reviews and in the past has given the same score to, for example, pickled vegetables and coffee. This IARC classification does not mean cellphones cause cancer…
The IARC working group did not conduct any new research, but rather reviewed published studies. Based on previous assessments of the scientific evidence, the Federal Communications Commission has concluded that ‘[t]here’s no scientific evidence that proves that wireless phone usage can lead to cancer.’ The Food and Drug Administration has also stated that ‘[t]he weight of scientific evidence has not linked cellphones with any health problems.
Individual mobile businesses have also responded.
Nokia said in a statement: “IARC has only concluded that, based on limited evidence, it may be possible that there could be some increased risk for certain cancer.”
And Sony Ericsson responded with: “The results are consistent with the vast majority of existing scientific research which shows no conclusive evidence of a connection between RF EMF exposure and cancer.”
Of course, as soon as they work people into a lather about the danger of “radiofrequency electromagnetic fields,” reporters today are taking a step back to assess what the report really means.
CNN analyzes the study and, at the end of this post, writes, “there are a lot of different factors involved here, and it’s hard to know what to make of this data.” Then the story recommends going to the website’s other health pages for tips on ear pieces and continued health info.
And The Washington Post’s Ezra Klein points out that the “case-control studies” that have been used to test cancer links to cell phones are “weaker” than other studies. And with the ubiquity of mobile phones, if there were a link to brain cancer, we would have seen a spike in cases already.
So the media may be doing damage control for the mobile industry. CNET has a list of the top 20 mobile phones with the highest and lowest levels of radiation. Those with the lowest — like the Samsung Blue Earth, T-Mobile Sidekick, and HTC Surround — may have found a new message for their next campaign.