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Cellphone cancer warning falls lightly on US ears

Jun 5, 2011 3:28:00 PM - thestate.com
News last week that an arm of the World Health Organization said cellphones might raise the risk of brain cancer has been greeted by Americans mostly with a shrug of the shoulder - one that's pinning a cellphone to the ear.

Google searches for "cancer" and "cellphones" spiked this week. And some people vowed to get headsets to shield themselves from radiation. But most seemed to either dismiss the warning as too vague, or reason that if the most useful device in modern life poses a slight health risk, then so be it.

"I was watching the news about it, and I thought, 'I'm already screwed because I've been talking on the phone for seven years,'" said Genevieve Chamorro, a 31-year-old New Yorker who was shopping for a phone.

John Gottani, a manager at a cellphone store in New York, said he's been selling phones for six years and has never heard anyone ask if they cause cancer. The only things customers really care about, Gottani said, are "if it works, and if it texts."

The International Agency for Research on Cancer reviewed dozens of published studies on cellphones and cancer before classifying cellphones as "possibly carcinogenic" on Tuesday. It's a risk category that includes night-shift work, engine exhaust and coffee.

USA, South Carolina: (Latest Stories)