Study revives debate over cancer from cell phone use

Group says upcoming study funded by carriers will underestimate dangers

A group of international scientists today released a report that again raises concerns about cell phone usage and brain tumors, noting that one recent Swedish study saw a 400 per cent increased risk for teenage cell phone users.

The 37-page report, from a group calling itself the International EMF (Electromagnetic Field) Collaborative, summarized what it said are the dangers of cell phone use, especially for children, and attempted to blunt an upcoming study being developed by the wireless industry in 13 countries, mainly in western Europe.

"Some countries are already banning cell phones over health concerns, with France saying children in elementary schools can only use them for texting," said the report's author, Lloyd Morgan, in an interview.

"Cell phones can be used appropriately and have a certain usefulness, but I fear we will see a tsunami of brain tumors, although it is too early to see that now since the tumors have a 30-year latency," he added.

"I pray I m wrong, but brace yourself."

However, John Walls, vice president of public affairs for the CTIA, a group representing wireless carriers and handset makers in the U.S., issued a statement today saying "peer-reviewed scientific evidence has overwhelmingly indicated that wireless devices do not pose a public health risk."

He noted that the American Cancer Society, the National Cancer Institute, the World Health Organization and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration have all concurred that wireless devices are not a public health risk.

Morgan, a retired electronics engineer based in Berkeley, Calif., and a member of the Bioelectromagnetics Society, wrote the report, Cellphones and Brain Tumors: 15 Reasons for Concern , with the endorsement of 43 scientists and experts from the U.S., Australia, Brazil, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Russia, Spain, Sweden and the U.K. Groups endorsing the findings include the EMR Policy Institute, the Peoples Initiative Foundation, ElectromagneticHealth.org, The Radiation Research Trust and Powerwatch.

A copy of the report and a short video are available at RadiationReserarch.org .

Morgan said the most damning research linking cell phone usage to brain tumors was noted in a study published in May 2009 in the International Journal of Oncology by a Swedish team of scientists led by Professor Lennart Hardell.

It noted that digital cell phone and cordless phone use by users who started when they were teenagers or younger led to a 420 per cent increased risk of brain cancer. Hardell had earlier found that analog cell phones caused a 700 per cent greater risk of cancer, although today's digital phones lessen the power requirements and reduce the risk.

The higher cancer risk comes from holding a cell phone close to the head over longer periods of time, the Collaborative study notes, and recommends eight steps for reducing exposure to cell phone radiation for adults and children.

The steps include using a wired headset on a call, not a wireless headset, or sending messages by texting.

Also, the study recommends keeping the cell phone away from your body, including in pockets, and avoiding use in a moving vehicle, since that tends to increase the power and the radiation required as the device moves farther from a cell tower.

The study also recommends using the cell phone like an answering machine, keeping it off until the user is ready to return calls. Avoiding use inside a building will reduce the power and radiation needed, the study said.

It also urged using a corded, landline phone whenever possible. The study further recommended that children not be allowed to sleep with a cell phone under a pillow and cautioned parents not to allow a child under 18 to use a cell phone except in an emergency.

A significant point of the collaborative study details 11 flaws in the upcoming Interphone study, which is due out this fall from major carriers in 13 countries, not including the U.S.

The flaws of that Interphone study, based on components already published, include that it eliminates subjects who use portable phones, even though those devices also emit microwave radiation as cell phones do.

The collaborative said the Interphone study also excluded many types of brain tumors from study and eliminated subjects who died or were too ill be interviewed.

The Interphone study also does not include children and young adults, who are more vulnerable, it said.

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