Tuesday, 18 June 2019

The classification of radio signals as a possible cancer cause could be reviewed

IARC Monograph 102 squareThe classification of radio frequency fields as ‘possibly carcinogenic’ could be reviewed by the United Nations’ cancer research body if more evidence emerges.

In a commentary published in the journal Epidemiology, four senior participants in the International Agency for Research on Cancer’s (IARC) working group process that classified wireless signals as Group 2B in the agency’s four-level system, said the classification could be changed if new evidence was discovered.
“It is a long established practice of the IARC Monographs Program to reconsider an exposure when important new evidence has accumulated,” said IARC Working Group Chair Jonathan Samet and IARC secretariat members Kurt Straif, Joachim Schüz and Rodolfo Saraccie.
“Within this framework, the classification could be upgraded based on either further epidemiologic [population] studies (finding an association of mobile phone use with brain cancer risk that can be shown not to reflect bias) or sufficiently convincing evidence from experimental studies.
“A downward classification could result if new and consistent studies, covering the full range of levels of exposure, were published that offered precise estimates around the null and were demonstrably free of bias.”
Following the IARC classification in 2011, a number of studies on brain cancer trends around the world have found no increase in cancer rates since the widespread introduction of mobile phones.
“Further follow-ups of incidence-rate time trends in the Nordic countries and the United States have been published, still showing no increase—particularly in the relevant subgroup of middle-aged men who were among the first to use mobile phones,” they said.
But the researchers said because population studies and analysis of brain cancer trends published since May 2011 “do not remove the uncertainty inherent in the ‘possibly carcinogenic’ (2B) IARC classification”, more research was needed before any downgrade could happen.
However, they warned that future studies should not be implemented without a coordinated plan to address the most critical uncertainties and said the ongoing tracking of brain cancer incidence was an essential component.
“The data considered by the IARC Working Group did not show any indication of a recent rise in brain cancer rates. However, the time period covered by most reports had ended 5 or more years earlier,” they said.
These trend analyses have to be continued to address even longer latency periods, they said.
“Ongoing tracking of patterns of brain cancer incidence is an essential component of any future research. Fortunately, there are many population-based cancer registries that collect data of sufficient quality for such surveillance,” they said.


Published 29/05/2014

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