New light on wireless radiation and cancer

What do leading scientists have to say about the health impacts of radiofrequency (wireless) radiation?

In a review published in late February, four experts discuss the evidence of risk and point out problems with the way the industry is being regulated.

The authors considered the evidence that wireless radiation is a cancer risk, including:

  • the 2011 decision by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) that classified radiofrequency radiation as a Class 2B (‘possible’) human carcinogen
  • the 2018 study by the US National Toxicology Program (NTP) which showed that mobile phone radiation caused cancer, cardiac and DNA damage in rodents
  • the 2018 and 2019 studies from the Ramazzini Institute which reported parallel findings
  • reports from Switzerland and the European Union which concluded that electromagnetic fields are probably carcinogenic for humans
  • conclusions by other scientists that wireless radiation is carcinogenic or probably carcinogenic.

The authors point out that not all researchers agree that wireless radiation is a cancer risk. ‘While some that have questioned the causal nature of the relationship may be well-meaning, a disproportionate number of those who discount the data are in the direct or indirect employ of the affected telecom industries,’ they say.

‘It is important to note that such dismissive studies presume that the sole biological impact of RFR is a consequence of heating,’ the authors write. ‘This presumption ignores a substantial body of independent studies finding that RFR induces numerous adverse biochemical changes affecting the formation of free radicals, the rates of cell growth and death, and cellular membrane transport. These changes are widely reported in organisms as diverse as plants, animals, and humans.’

The authors also refer to the ‘manufacturing of doubt’, a practice that has been used by the industry to discredit findings that wireless radiation could be harmful.

The authors conclude that ‘There is a plethora of both experimental and epidemiological evidence establishing a causal relationship between EMF and cancer and other adverse health effects including adverse effects on fetal development and the endocrine system. Increases in biochemical alterations such as DNA damage, increased production of free radicals and other signals found to be predictive of cancer and other degenerative diseases have been clearly demonstrated.’

Are we not protected by radiation standards for limiting exposure?

The authors say that the two major bodies that dominate international standards-setting – the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) – only address the heating effects of radiation and not the growing body of evidence on non-heating effects of exposure.

‘Industry and regulatory authorities should have the safety of the public as their paramount concern,’ the authors write. ‘However, the boundaries separating the regulator from the regulated are frequently blurred.’

Paul Ben Ishai, Devra Davis, Hugh Taylor, Linda Birnbaum, ‘Problems in evaluating the health impacts of radio frequency radiation,’ Environmental Research, 2023, 115038, ISSN 0013-9351,

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