The state-of-the-science does currently, or will soon, support reasonable conclusions related to the effects of RF exposure on a number of health-related endpoints in laboratory animals (Sienkiewicz 2007; Lai 2007; Roti Roti 2007) and cell-based model systems (Vijayalaxmi 2007). However, data gaps do exist, and a number of possibly critical health effects of RF fields remain to be investigated. In this regard, it should be noted that essentially all experimental studies of RF health effects have been descriptive (e.g., Chou et al. 1992; Vijayalaxmi and Obe 2004) in that they have not been designed to investigate specific hypotheses of disease causation. Indeed, lacking compelling biophysical and biochemical/molecular mechanisms through which RF exposure could play a role in disease causation, investigations of possible links between RF exposure and disease are necessarily empirical. Additional experimental research focused on the identification of potential biophysical, biochemical, and molecular mechanisms of RF action is therefore considered to be an important research need, because it serves as an essential element of a comprehensive hazard assessment.
The following sub-sections are organized into Cancer, Cancer-related Endpoints: Genetic Toxicology, Cancer-related Endpoints: Other, and Noncancer Health Effects.
Perhaps the single most important question concerning the health effects of exposure to RF fields is the possible link between such exposures and cancer risk. Several well-designed, large-scale studies to evaluate the possible oncogenicity of chronic exposure to RF fields in laboratory animals have been conducted (Zook and Simmens 2001; La Regina et al. 2003; Anderson et al. 2004; Tillmann et al. 2007) or are currently in progress. In consideration of the size and strength of the emerging database for studies of the potential carcinogenicity and general toxicity of RF fields, and the quality of the studies that have been and are being conducted, there appears to be only limited value to be gained by initiating additional oncogenicity studies using standard-bred animal models until ongoing studies have been completed. Following completion of these studies, a “weight-of-the-evidence” analysis can be conducted (for example, using criteria established by the International Agency for Research on Cancer) to synthesize and evaluate the entire data set. At that time, rational, informed decisions can be made concerning (a) the value of conducting additional oncogenicity studies in standard-bred laboratory animals and (b) specific design elements that can be incorporated into any such studies in order to address identified data gaps.
Although a large database will soon be available to support evaluations of the possible oncogenicity of RF fields in standard-bred animals,