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Study links mobile emissions to tumours

Posted on: 06/28/2002

Study links mobile emissions to tumours

By Andrew Colley, ZDNet Australia
New research by Finland's Helsinki-based Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority appears to support long-held claims that mobile phone radiation may promote tumour growth.

Although the study's findings primarily focused on mobile phone radiation's impact on the blood-brain barrier, Dariusz Leszczynski believes that exposure to mobile phone radiation interferes with human cell lifecycles in a manner that could trigger tumour development.

The study found that prolonged exposure to mobile phone radiation caused human cells to shrink. Leszczynski fears that this could impact on the human blood-brain barrier's ability to filter harmful substances from the bloodstream. Leszczynski's research would provide a significant boost to researchers attempting to demonstrate that mobile radiation affects cells without heating. Current mobile phone emission standards, including those recommended by the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Authority (ARPANSA) are based exclusively on known, harmful effects associated with cell heating. Dr Peter French, who is conducting research that parallels the Finnish study at St Vincent's hospital in Sydney, declined to comment on the Finnish findings directly.

"We're doing research in this area and reports like these continue to support the validity of conducting research in this area," said French. Last May ARPANSA delivered findings to the Australian Federal Government recommending that mobile phone radiation exposure limits be eased, opening the way for Specific Absorption Rates (SAR) to be doubled.

Andrew Wood, bio-physicist at Melbourne's Swinbourne University and ARPANSA adviser, admitted that health implications of mobile phone radiation were still unknown. However, despite being able to refer to over 200 studies dedicated to examining how cells are affected by mobile exposure, he said that few have been helpful for setting safe emissions standards.

"When people suggest there's a non-thermal effect they rarely suggest what the mechanism might be and it leaves people in a bit of vacuum," said Wood. His comments echo those made by Wayne Cornelius, head of ARPANSA's EMR and Laser and Optical Radiation section, in May.

"No one can rationally set limits of exposure unless they know precisely what the mechanism for causing a harmful effect is," said Cornelius, in May describing the dilemma faced by health and radiation standards organisations. And that, it appears, is absent in Leszczynski's research. One expert who shares Leszczynski's interest in the non-thermal effects of mobile phone radiation, commenting on the report for the New Scientist, warned that many will dismiss the report unless it can demonstrates how mobile phone radiation triggers the effects described in the research.

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