World Health Organization study links mobile phone use with enhanced risk of brain and other tumours

Mobile phones are undeniably convenient, but that fat that they emit electromagnetic radiation means that they have at least some potential to affect individuals who use them. For a long time, the party line was that mobile phones are safe. This is a message the industry has been particularly keen to cultivate. However, at least some evidence suggests otherwise. In a blog last year (which you can read here), I wrote about a study which found that mobile phone use was associated with an increased risk of gliomas (the most common form of brain tumour) and acoustic neuromas (benign tumours that grow on the nerve responsible for hearing).

This week, I came across a newspaper report of a World Health Organization (WHO) study which raises further doubts about the safety of mobile phones. The study involved interviewing almost 13,000 from 2000-2004 over 13 countries. The study has yet to be published (it is due for publication later this year), but this report about it claims that:

6 of 8 studies found an increased risk of glioma associated with mobile phone use

2 of 7 studies found an increased risk of acoustic neuroma associated with long-term mobile phone use

One study found an increased risk of tumours of the parotid gland (a salivary gland in the side of the face near where mobile phones are held) associated with heavy mobile phone use

The results, though not entirely conclusive, clearly have concerned the WHO. Its head, Dr Elisabeth Cardis, is quoted as saying In the absence of definitive results and in the light of a number of studies which, though limited, suggest a possible effect of radiofrequency radiation, precautions are important.

There is particular concern regarding use by children, as their thinner skulls are less likely to shield the brain from harmful frequencies. However, I suggest, whatever age you happen to be, that you use your mobile phone (if you have one) as infrequently as possible, and for as short a time as possible when you do. Also, one thing I personally do is to make as much of my mobile phone communication via SMS/text. Getting over some important communication in a few words of text can be quicker and just as good as phone call quite often.

5 Responses to World Health Organization study links mobile phone use with enhanced risk of brain and other tumours

  1. Haggus 28 October 2009 at 6:26 am #

    I’m reserving judgment until I see the deets, but in the meantime, what is your take on the hands-free devices. Specifically, Bluetooth and wired?

  2. Nigeepoo 29 October 2009 at 5:03 pm #

    Most modern phones have loudspeaker mode, which gets the phone well away from the body.

    Bluetooth earpieces emit *very* low RF power levels so they should be as safe as houses, though people that use them look like they’re talking to themselves!

    Ditto for wired earpieces.

  3. jan vanderwal 30 October 2009 at 5:45 pm #

    What about cordless handsets? Do they represent the same risk?

  4. Robert 3 November 2009 at 8:49 pm #

    Would the now common use of wireless internet also raise similar concerns?

    Unfortunately a problem with these recent technologies is that they haven’t been around long enough for any effects from their use to properly manifest, and for proper studies to be able to be done. We won’t ‘know for sure’ until its too late.


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