Friday, 11 September 2009

Report Links Cellphones to Brain Tumors

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cellphoneA group known as the International EMF Collaborative has released a report stating that consistent cellphone use significantly increases the risk of brain tumors, the Los Angeles Times said on September 9.

Entitled Cellphones and Brain Tumors: 15 Reasons for Concern, the report points to research that associates regular cellphone use with a high incidence of brain tumors. Children are shown to be especially vulnerable to electromagnetic radiation because their brain cells are still in development.

“Cellphones are causing brain tumors,” declares the primary author of the report, Lloyd Morgan, who is a retired electronics engineer. “Industry-backed studies try to hide that fact. But if you read them carefully, you can see there are risks.”

The World Health Organization and the National Cancer Institute disagree. They both believe the available research is not conclusive. According to the National Cancer Institute, rates of brain cancer occurrence and the number of deaths from brain cancer have not shown any increase during the last 10 years.

However, the nonprofit Central Brain Tumor Registry of the United States has noted an increase in certain kinds of tumors. Carol Kruchko, the registry’s president, cautions that scientists have not yet found the cause of the increase. Kruchko calls the cellphone issue “controversial,” and she believes more research is needed.

But Morgan refers to the 13-nation study of cellphone safety called Interphone. After nearly a decade of collecting data, Interphone researchers still disagree on how to interpret that data. In the mean time, many of the nations involved with Interphone have released their findings individually.

Almost all the national reports conclude that people who consistently hold a cellphone on the same side of their head while using it regularly for at least 10 years really do have a heightened risk for developing brain tumors. This is enough for Morgan to reach a verdict: “That means cellphones are causing brain tumors. End of story.”

Morgan told the Times he has no illusions about cellphones being banned, but he would like to see people using earphones to keep the actual handset away from their heads. Morgan also favors putting a cigarette-like warning on all cellphones that long-term use can be hazardous to your health.

“Not everyone who smokes three packs a day gets lung cancer,” Morgan said. “Not everyone who uses a cellphone will get brain cancer. But everyone who does is at higher risk.”

While the debate rages on, simple measures such as switching the phone from one side of the head to the other would seem to lessen the risk, as would using earphones or the speakerphone function. Of course, the option always remains to decrease or eliminate cellphone use whenever possible, but the convenience of instant communication, especially in time-sensitive or emergency situations, practically guarantees that cellphones won’t be going away any time soon no matter what headaches they bring with them.

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