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Misc. News : Consumer Affair Last Updated: Apr 20, 2011 - 9:38:09 AM

Cell phone may raise brain cancer risk
By Ben Wasserman and Sue Mueller
Sep 26, 2008 - 12:56:05 PM

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Friday Sep 26, 2008 ( – Two U.S. scientists told the House Subcommittee on Domestic Policy in a congressional hearing that use of cell phone may raise the risk of brain cancer although the risk needs to be further researched, news media reports.


The concern came from Dr. Ronald Herberman, director of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute and Dr. David Carpenter, director of the Institute for Health and the Environment at the University of Albany.


Drs. Herberman and Carpenter cited a major study recently presented by Dr. Lennart Hardell of Örebro University in Sweden saying people using cell phones doubled their risk of developing brain cancer and acoustic neuromas, a benign tumor that damage hearing nerve. The study also showed people who started using cell phone before the age of 20 years were more than five times as likely to develop brain cancer as those who did not.


"I cannot tell this committee that cell phones are definitely dangerous. But, I certainly cannot tell you that they are safe," Herberman was quoted by as saying.   Dr. Herberman early sent to his colleagues a warning over the risk of the cell phone and advised in a public statement that children should not be allowed or restricted to use cell phone except for emergencies.


Lennart Hardell is a professor of the University Hospital in Orebro, Sweden.   He re-analyzed data from one of the biggest studies ever carried out on the effect of radiation on cancer risk and found that risk of brain cancer in those who started using cell phone before age 20 was five times higher while the risk for those who started using cell phones after 20 was 50 percent higher compared to those who did not use.


Last week the European Parliament voted 522 to 16 to urge ministers across Europe to impose stricter limits for exposure to radiation from mobile and cordless phones, wi-fi and other radiation-generating devices in part because children are particularly vulnerable to the risk due to their immature smaller brains.


Prof. Hardell told the conference that children under 12 should not use mobiles except in emergencies.   He suggested that the risk for children and teenagers may be greater than his results indicated.


A government researcher Dr. Robert Hoover at the National Cancer Institute downplayed the significance of Hardell's study saying the study has not been subject to peer reviews. He suggested the association between cell phone use and risk of cancer is inconclusive and further research is needed to clarify the association.


Not much research on the association between cell phone and brain cancer has been done in the US. Mostly the research was done in European countries.  Often studies lasted no more than ten years and the results were negative. Researchers and sponsors of the studies then pointed to the results and said cell phone is safe to use.  


The important thing many studies failed to address is the latency of brain cancer.   The malignancies in the brain like many other types need more than 10 years to develop. The association between the risk of brain cancer and use of cell phone for more than 10 years was often positive.


The House Subcommittee invited CTIA, the international Association for Wireless telecommunications, an industry organization, to testify, but the organization declined the invitation, Rep Dennis Kucinich was cited as saying.


Instead, CTIA issued a statement saying the industry has supported research on the issues and research so far has failed to prove that there should be a concern about the brain cancer risk.

© 2004-2008 by unless otherwise specified

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