Do people understand IARC's 2B categorization of RF fields from cell phones?

Bioelectromagnetics. 2014 Jul;35(5):373-8. doi: 10.1002/bem.21851. Epub 2014 Apr 15.


In May 2011, the International Agency on Cancer in Research (IARC) issued an official statement concluding that cell phone usage was "possibly carcinogenic to humans." There have been considerable doubts that non-experts and experts alike fully understood what IARC's categorization actually meant, as "possibly carcinogenic" can be interpreted in many ways. The present study is based on an online survey indicating that both the characterization of the probability of carcinogenicity, as well as the description of the risk increase given in the IARC press release, was mostly misunderstood by study participants. Respondents also greatly overestimated the magnitude of the potential risk. Our study results showed that IARC needs to improve their scientific communications.

Keywords: IARC; health risk; mobile phones; risk assessment; risk communication.

Publication types

  • Letter
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cell Phone*
  • Data Collection
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • International Agencies*
  • Neoplasms, Radiation-Induced / etiology*
  • Radio Waves / adverse effects*
  • Risk Assessment