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"Who: Cellphone Health Risk Needs More Research"
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|·||Independent Expert Group on Mobile Phones (IEGMP) - text of the UK publication on a report on mobile phones and safety.|
|·||Get Your Head Round This - investigation into the safety of cellular phone use. From New Scientist magazine.|
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Who: Cellphone Health Risk Needs More Research
By Paul de Bendern
HELSINKI (Reuters) - A link between mobile phone usage and
cancer can not be dismissed without further research, an
official at a World Health Organization (news - web sites) (WHO) agency said on
"More research is needed," Elisabeth Cardis, Chief of
Radiation and Cancer at the WHO's International Agency for
Research in Cancer, told a conference in Helsinki.
The explosive growth in mobile phone usage, particularly in
Europe and the United States, has increased the public debate
over possible health risks linked to mobile phones.
While a few studies claim there is a connection, most
authoritative studies have not been able to conclude that
regular mobile phone usage could damage a person's brain.
"Based on current epidemiological evidence, there is no
evidence of a strong association between RF (radio frequency)
exposure and cancer," said Cardis, referring to radio waves
emitted from devices like mobile phones.
"One can't rule out that there is a risk, but if there is a
risk to mobile phone users it would be very small."
Mobile phones are tiny radio stations that send and
Last year, a UK government-sponsored scientific inquiry,
chaired by Sir William Steward, concluded that while there was
no evidence of danger to health, it would be wise to discourage
children from using mobile phones excessively.
It concluded that the radio frequency signals emitted by
phones generated heat in the brain, but said it was not clear
whether this could have other biological effects, such as
European and U.S. authorities have now asked mobile phone
manufacturers, such as Nokia (news - web sites), Motorola and Ericsson (news - web sites), to label
their phones with the level of radiation, or Specific
Absorption Rate (SAR), they emit -- the best way of measuring
radiation -- partly in response to consumer demands.
The SAR safety limit agreed in Europe is 2.0, while most
phones on the market are now showing values between 0.5 and 1.0
There are currently over 800 million mobile phone users
worldwide, and about 400 million handsets are expected to be
sold this year. By early next year as many as one billion
people are expected to own a handset.
NEW FOUR-YEAR STUDY TO GIVE ANSWERS
Cardis, in Helsinki attending an international conference
on the biological effects of exposure to electromagnetic
radiation said research by the INTERPHONE study group would
focus on a link between cancer and phones.
She said this would be more thorough than previous studies,
such as the Cohort study into cellular phone users in the
United States, because it would span a period of three years
and would go into more detail, such as research into lower
frequency electromagnetic fields to and from phones.
Cardis said one reason previous studies, particularly on
the link between brain tumors and phones, had proved
inconclusive was because brain tumor cases often had not used
Widespread mobile phone usage is relatively new.
The INTERPHONE study should be ready in 2004.
"At present, possible effects on cancer initiation cannot
be studied due to the short follow-up times," concluded a
recent Finnish study into phone use and the risk of brain
Nokia, the world's largest mobile phone maker, addresses
the issue of mobile phone safety on its Web site.
"Scientific research conducted all over the world over many
years demonstrates that radio signals within established safety
levels emitted from mobile telephones and their base stations
present no adverse effects to human health," Nokia said.
U.S. neurologist Christopher Newman last year filed a
lawsuit against leading U.S. phone companies, including
Motorola, saying that the use of his mobile phone had caused a
malignant brain tumor.
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