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U.S. study discounts cancer-cellular phone use (Reuters Securities)There does not appear to be an association between hand-held cellular telephone use and brain cancer, though more research needs to be done about the impact of long-term use, according to a study published Tuesday.- Dec 19 5:04 PM ET


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Posted on: 12/19/2000

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Tuesday December 19, 5:04 pm Eastern Time

U.S. study discounts cancer-cellular phone use

(UPDATE: Adds New England Journal of Medicine study, grafs 6-7)

CHICAGO, Dec 19 (Reuters) - There does not appear to be an association between hand-held cellular telephone use and brain cancer, though more research needs to be done about the impact of long-term use, according to a study published (on) Tuesday.

The study, done by the American Health Foundation, was funded in part by a research group established by the cellular telephone industry which put more than $28 million into a blind escrow account for the group to finance research after cancer fears were raised during the last decade.

The report looked at 469 men and women aged 18 to 80 who had primary brain cancer and compared them with 422 people who did not have the malignancy, quizzing both groups about hand-held cellular telephone use.

"The ... study shows no effect with short-term exposure to cellular telephones that operate on (primarily) analog signals," concluded the report published in this week's Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

"Further studies are needed to account for longer induction periods, especially for slow-growing tumors. The radio frequency fields emitted from digital cellular telephones might have different effects on biological tissue than analog telephones, and studies are under way in several European countries that use primarily digital telecommunication networks," it added.

The New England Journal of Medicine lifted a Jan. 11 embargo on its own study of cellular phone use and brain cancer on Wednesday after the JAMA report became public. That study also found there was no apparent data to support the theory that hand-held cellular phone use caused brain tumors.

The Journal's authors, who used 782 patients in hospitals in Arizona, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts, also called for more studies to evaluate the risks among long-term, heavy cell telephone users.

The JAMA study was conducted from 1994 to 1998 after suggestions were made that the proximity of the antenna to the side of the head might be exposing the brain to potentially dangerous doses of radio frequency signals. In recent years earplug and mouthpiece attachments which allow the user to keep the telephone receiver away from the head have become popular, in part because of health concerns.

"We found that regardless of how frequently the phones were used per month or how many years the phones were used, there wasn't any relationship with the development of brain cancer," said Joshua Muscat, the study's chief author, in a separate statement released by the medical association.

"Our results suggest that the use of cell phones are not related to the incidence of brain cancer," he added. "But we need to keep in mind that cell phones have only been around for a few years, and so most people who have used cell phones have them on an average for about two or three years. We need to keep in mind that there might be unknown effects associated with longer usage, and so that needs to be studied in the future."

Cellular telephones were introduced in the United States in 1984 but their usage there and in other countries boomed during the '90s.

The brain cancer patients interviewed in the study were at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York University Medical Center, and Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in New York; Rhode Island Hospital in Providence; and Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston.

The study said that while cellular telephone use has been suspected as a risk factor for brain cancer, the actual causes of the disease remain poorly understood.

In the study released Tuesday those surveyed were asked if they had ever used a hand-held cellular telephone on a regular basis, that being defined as having had a subscription to a service.

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