Sci-tech

Researchers find link between cell phones and cancer

Researchers find link between cell phones and cancer

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Although the tests were done on rodents at levels much higher than humans are now exposed to there was a clear link with male rats.

"Animal studies like this one contribute to our discussions on this topic, but we must remember the study was not created to test the safety of cellphone use in humans, so we can not draw conclusions about the risks of cellphone use from it", Dr. Jeffrey Shuren, director of the Food and Drug Administration's Center for Devices and Radiological Health, who was not involved with the study, said in a statement. The findings are unlikely to satisfy many people.

A toxicological study showed clear evidence that male rats exposed to high level of radio frequency radiation (RFR) like that used in 2G and 3G cell phones developed cancerous heart tumors, though the findings could not be directly compared to human's experience. There is "some evidence" of brain cancer.

The results involve radio frequencies long out of routine use, and the Food and Drug Administration disagrees with the conclusions. In general, Bucher said, they advised the NTP to strengthen its confidence in what was found. The heart tumour increase marked "clear evidence" of cancer in male rats, it announced. Among the female mice, however, the evidence was unclear as to whether the cancers observed in them are associated with RFR.

Interestingly, the researchers found that the male mice that were exposed to cellphone radiation actually lived longer than those that were not exposed. The type of radiation that comes from cellphones is very different form the radiation that comes from gamma rays or nuclear energy.

"We saw evidence of DNA damage in some tissue of some animals", Bucher said.

To be fair to the study though the New York Times is an unofficial press office for one of the largest suppliers of mobile phones - Apple. And mice were not as strongly affected as rats seemed to be.

Bucher was clear: "We believe that the link between radiofrequency radiation and tumors in male rats is real, and the external experts agreed".

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The Environmental Working Group, an advocacy organization, said in a statement Thursday that "the findings reinforce the need for people, especially children, to exercise caution when using cellphones and other radiation-emitting devices".

"In a nutshell, the present results serve only to add a little strength to the evidence available following the first report on the rat studies", Consultant for Cancer Causes and Prevention at the University of Western Australia Bruce Armstrong said. Those were specifically looked into because they were the standard when the study was designed and is still being used today by some, though less commonly so.

In the study, researchers used mice to study the potential health hazards such as cancer risks associated with long-term exposure to RFR similar to that used in 2G and 3G cellphones.

The exposure levels and durations were far greater than what people typically encounter. Still, even a small rise in cancer risk could have significant implications for the general public.

Experts say it is not unusual for cancer patterns to vary between sexes in people and animals, including the study's mice and rats.

Some scientists have warned that 5G - which uses milimeter waves, rather than the microwaves that were the basis of previous generations - may in fact be more risky, but its far too soon to tell for sure.

"As scientists, we welcome new studies", Shuren said. Studies on human cell phone use often rely on questionnaires. "These studies should have been done before more than 90 percent of Americans, including millions of children, started using this technology day in and day out". He believes the final peer-reviewed data should serve as a public health warning.

As for Bucher, he says he's not a heavy cellphone user himself.

Also, the highest exposure level in the studies was four times higher than the maximum power level permitted, the reports said.


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