The fight to prove radiofrequency-electromagnetic fields (RF-EMF) such as those emitted by smartphones and cellphone towers are "possibly carcinogenic to humans” continues despite opposition by both the World Health Organization (WHO) and the federal government of the United States. This risk will be increased with the widespread use of 5G technology.

In 2016, a study by 30 international scientists that were part of the working group of the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), concluded that, based on studies of the highest quality, "A causal interpretation between mobile phone RF-EMF exposure and glioma is possible."

It said smaller studies supported a similar conclusion for acoustic neuroma, but the evidence was not convincing for other types of cancer. The working group published a summary of its findings in The Lancet Oncology, a peer-reviewed journal.

In view of the limited evidence in humans and experimental animals, the working group classified RF-EMFs as "possibly carcinogenic to humans …." "This evaluation was supported by a large majority of working group members," according to the study they wrote.

The IARC working group was formed to assess the risk of developing cancer as a result of exposure to RF-EMFs.

A glioma is a type of tumor that starts in the glial cells of the brain or the spine. Gliomas account for some 30 percent of all brain tumors and central nervous system tumors, and 80 percent of all malignant brain tumors. A neuroma is a growth or tumor of nerve tissue. It tends to be benign, however.

WHO still refuses to accept the entirety of the conclusions reached by IARC, which is one of its units.

WHO continues to state that "To date, no adverse health effects from low level, long term exposure to radiofrequency or power frequency fields have been confirmed, but scientists are actively continuing to research this area."

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has reached a conclusion almost similar to that of the WHO. FCC said that "At relatively low levels of exposure to RF radiation -- i.e., levels lower than those that would produce significant heating -- the evidence for production of harmful biological effects is ambiguous and unproven."

Smartphones have been one of the faster growing technologies across the world, changing how people handle daily activities. Pixabay

The IARC working group pointed out the most well-established biological effect of RF-EMFs is heating. High doses of RF-EMFs can lead to a rise in the temperature of exposed tissues such as human skin, leading to burns and other damage.

Smartphones and other mobile devices emit RF-EMFs at low levels. Whether this is a cause for concern is a matter of ongoing debate. The advent of 5G, which emits more powerful EFs, has reignited this raging debate.

The IARC scientists looked at one cohort study and five case-control studies in human. Each of these studies was designed to investigate if there is a link between cell phone use and glioma. The team also looked at over 40 studies with rats and mice as their test subjects.