Wireless radiation and cancer

on August 3 | in Australian News, Cancer Research & Technology, Commentary, Featured News, Headlines, Latest News, Lifestyle, Nutrition & Environment, News | by | with Comments Off

Close up of a man using mobile smart phoneBy Rachael Babin, Oncology News Australia.

Last week we covered a review article that claimed a connection between wireless devices and health problems, including cancer.

The article “Oxidative Mechanisms of Biological Activity of Low-intensity Radiofrequency Radiation,”  published in Electromagnetic Biology and Medicine, explored experimental data on the metabolic effects of low-intensity radiofrequency radiation in living cells.

As a result of media coverage of the article, Professor Bruce Armstrong, an Australian expert independent of the study, responded as follows:

“The Yakymenko paper reviews a large range of studies done in cultured cells and experimental animals and concludes that low-intensity radio frequency radiation (RFR), that is radio waves (which would include the radio waves produced by mobile phones, WiFi, radio and TV transmitters, etc.) cause oxidative stress in cells and could cause DNA damage and other biological effects. They conclude that these effects are potentially damaging to human health; which is correct if the research reviewed is basically sound. The soundness of the research is hard to judge because the paper focuses mainly on the research results and not on the research quality, which is likely to be highly variable.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) reviewed the evidence for cancer causing effects (one of the possible outcomes of oxidative stress in cells) of RFR in 2011 and concluded that RFR possibly causes cancer in humans. IARC would have considered most of the papers covered by this review in its deliberations (http://monographs.iarc.fr/ENG/Monographs/vol102/index.php). With respect specifically to the effects in cellular systems IARC concluded “Overall, the Working Group concluded that there was weak evidence that exposure to RF radiation affects oxidative stress and alters the levels of reactive oxygen species”. With respect to experimental animals IARC concluded “There is limited evidence in experimental animals for the carcinogenicity [cancer causing effect] of radiofrequency radiation”.

In practical terms, the conclusions of the Yakymenko paper and the IARC monograph are little different. Yakymenko et al concluded:  “… a broad biological potential of ROS and other free radicals, including both their mutagenic effects and their signalling regulatory potential, makes RFR a potentially hazardous factor for human health.”

With respect to cancer, there is little if anything in cancer trends over the past 30 years, and particularly in the brain (given concerns about mobile phone use), to suggest that recent large increases in exposure to RFR are increasing cancer risk.”


Professor Bruce Armstrong is Emeritus Professor in the School of Public Health at the University of Sydney, Senior Adviser to the Sax Institute and Chairman of the Bureau of Health Information.

Source: Australian Science Media Centre

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