Last updated on: 6/29/2011 | Author:

International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) Biography

NC to the question "Is Cell Phone Radiation Safe?"

“In May, 2011, 30 scientists from 14 countries [the Working Group] met at the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in Lyon, France, to assess the carcinogenicity of radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (RF-EMF)…

Human exposures to RF-EMF (frequency range 30 kHz–300 GHz) can occur from use of personal devices (eg, mobile telephones, cordless phones, Bluetooth, and amateur radios), from occupational sources (eg, highfrequency dielectric and induction heaters, and high-powered pulsed radars), and from environmental sources such as mobile-phone base stations, broadcast antennas [including tv and radio], and medical applications…

EMFs generated by RF sources couple with the body, resulting in induced electric and magnetic fields and associated currents inside tissues. The most important factors that determine the induced fields are the distance of the source from the body and the output power level…

Holding a mobile phone to the ear to make a voice call can result in high specific RF energy absorption-rate (SAR) values in the brain, depending on the design and position of the phone and its antenna in relation to the head, how the phone is held, the anatomy of the head, and the quality of the link between the base station and phone. When used by children, the average RF energy deposition is two times higher in the brain and up to ten times higher in the bone marrow of the skull, compared with mobile phone use by adults. Use of hands-free kits lowers exposure to the brain to below 10% of the exposure from use at the ear, but it might increase exposure to other parts of the body.

Epidemiological evidence for an association between RF-EMF and cancer comes from cohort, casecontrol, and time-trend studies. The populations in these studies were exposed to RF-EMF in occupational settings, from sources in the general environment, and from use of wireless (mobile and cordless) telephones, which is the most extensively studied exposure source…

The Working Group… reviewed many studies with endpoints relevant to mechanisms of carcinogenesis, including genotoxicity, effects on immune function, gene and protein expression, cell signalling, oxidative stress, and apoptosis. Studies of the possible effects of RF-EMF on the blood-brain barrier and on a variety of effects in the brain were also considered. Although there was evidence of an effect of RF-EMF on some of these endpoints, the Working Group reached the overall conclusion that these results provided only weak mechanistic evidence relevant to RF-EMF induced cancer in humans.

In view of the limited evidence in humans and in experimental animals, the Working Group classified RF-EMF as ‘possibly carcinogenic to humans’ (Group 2B). This evaluation was supported by a large majority of Working Group members.”

“Carcinogenicity of Radiofrequency Electromagnetic Fields,” The Lancet Oncology, June 22, 2011


“The objective of the IARC is to promote international collaboration in cancer research. The Agency is inter-disciplinary, bringing together skills in epidemiology, laboratory sciences and biostatistics to identify the causes of cancer so that preventive measures may be adopted and the burden of disease and associated suffering reduced. A significant feature of the IARC is its expertise in coordinating research across countries and organizations; its independent role as an international organization facilitates this activity…

The IARC has an important role in describing the burden of cancer worldwide, through co-operation with and assistance to cancer registries and in monitoring geographical variations and trends over time…

The close working relationship between IARC and its parent organization, WHO, allows the research findings of the Agency to be translated effectively into timely policies for cancer control.”

“About Us,” (accessed June 29, 2011)


“The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) is part of the World Health Organization.

IARC’s mission is to coordinate and conduct research on the causes of human cancer, the mechanisms of carcinogenesis, and to develop scientific strategies for cancer prevention and control. The Agency is involved in both epidemiological and laboratory research and disseminates scientific information through publications, meetings, courses, and fellowships.”

Homepage, (accessed June 29, 2011)

Agency of the World Health Organization