Advice from the Chief Medical Officer on mobile phone use

Advice from the Chief Medical Officer, Department of Health and Children

1 June 2011

In the last few days, WHO/International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified radiofrequency electromagnetic fields as emitted by mobile phones as possibly carcinogenic to humans (Group 2B). This is based on research which has shown that a positive association has been observed between mobile phone use and an increased risk for glioma, a malignant type of brain cancer

We may not truly understand the health affects of mobile phones for many years. However, research does show that using mobile phones affects brain activity. There is general consensus that children are more vulnerable to radiation from mobile phones than adults. Therefore the sensible thing to do is to adopt a precautionary approach rather than wait to have the risks confirmed.

In the light of these findings, the Chief Medical Officer of the Department of Health and Children strongly advises that children and young people who do use mobile phones, should be encouraged to use mobile phones for “essential purposes only” All calls should be kept short as talking for long periods prolongs exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields.

All mobile phone users can reduce their exposure to radiofrequency energy by making fewer calls, reducing the length of calls, sending text messages instead of calling, using cell phones only when landline phones are unavailable, using a wired “hands free” device so that the phone need not be held against the head and refraining from keeping an active phone clipped to the belt or in the pocket.

Given the scientific uncertainty regarding mobile phone related cancer risks, many countries including Germany, France, Austria, United Kingdom and Russia have taken a precautionary stance regarding cell phone use, particularly by children.
There is strong evidence proving that using a mobile phone while driving increases the risk of traffic accidents. The use of a hands free kit does not significantly reduce this risk. Therefore the CMO strongly advises that all drivers should refrain from using mobile phones.
This advice is based on the Report of an Expert Group chaired by Dr. Michael Rapacholi Health Effects of Electromagnetic Fields which was commissioned by the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government in 2007, and the recent statement from the WHO/International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).

Last updated on: 01 / 06 / 2011