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Electromagnetic Fields 2009 Update

5. Conclusions on mobile phones and radio frequency fields

    The SCENIHR opinion states:

    3.3.8. Conclusions about RF fields

    The question receiving most attention is whether RF field exposure is involved in carcinogenesis. The previous opinion stated that, based on epidemiological findings, mobile phone use for less than ten years is not associated with cancer incidence. Regarding longer use, it was deemed difficult to make an estimate since few persons had used mobile phones for more than ten years.

    Since then, a few additional epidemiological studies have been published. Unfortunately they do not significantly extend the exposure period. These studies do not change this assessment.

    New improved studies on the association between RF fields from broadcast transmitters and childhood cancer provide evidence against such an association.

    Animal studies show that RF fields similar to those from mobile phones, alone or in combination with known carcinogenic factors, are not carcinogenic in laboratory rodents. Certain studies have also employed higher exposure levels (up to 4 W/kg), still with no apparent effects on tumor development.

    Furthermore, the in vitro studies regarding genotoxicity fail to provide evidence for an involvement of RF field exposure in DNA-damage.

    It is concluded from three independent lines of evidence (epidemiological, animal and in vitro studies) that exposure to RF fields is unlikely to lead to an increase in cancer in humans. However, as the widespread duration of exposure of humans to RF fields from mobile phones is shorter than the induction time of some cancers, further studies are required to identify whether considerably longer-term (well beyond ten years) human exposure to such phones might pose some cancer risk.

    Regarding non-carcinogenic outcomes, several studies were performed on subjects reporting subjective symptoms. In the previous opinion, it was concluded that scientific studies had failed to provide support for a relationship between RF exposure and self- reported symptoms. Although an association between RF exposure and single symptoms was indicated in some new studies, taken together, there is a lack of consistency in the findings. Therefore, the conclusion that scientific studies have failed to provide support for an effect of RF fields on self-reported symptoms still holds. Scientific studies have indicated that a nocebo effect (an adverse non-specific effect that is caused by expectation or belief that something is harmful) may play a role in symptom formation. As in the previous opinion, there is no evidence supporting that individuals, including those attributing symptoms to RF exposure, are able to detect RF fields. There is some evidence that RF fields can influence EEG patterns and sleep in humans. However, the health relevance is uncertain and mechanistic explanation is lacking. Further investigation of these effects is needed. Other studies on functions/aspects of the nervous system, such as cognitive functions, sensory functions, structural stability, and cellular responses show no or no consistent effects.

    Recent studies have not shown effects from RF fields on human or animal reproduction and development. No new data have been reported that indicate any other effects on human health.

    From the risk assessment perspective it is important to recognise that information on possible effects caused by RF fields in children is limited. Furthermore, there is a lack of information on diseases other than those discussed in this report.

    Source & ©: SCENIHR,  Health Effects of Exposure to EMF (2009),
    3.3.8 Conclusions about RF fields. p.35-36


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