A close call: Why the jury is still out on mobile phones

Is a rise in brain tumours linked to the radiation sources we hold so close to our heads? Experts can’t agree on the answer

Allegations of lobbying, bad science, not enough science, conflicts of interest, political inertia, scaremongering and lawsuits: the debate surrounding the safety of mobile phones has it all. With more than 5 billion users worldwide, mobile phones have undoubtedly become central to modern life in just two decades, but could they be a health hazard?

Scientists at the Children with Cancer conference in London this week will advocate that governments adopt the ‘precautionary principle’ – advising phone users to take simple steps to protect themselves and their children from potential, not proven, long term health risks of electromagnetic fields – especially head cancers.

They will call for urgent research into new Office of National Statistics figures that suggest a 50 per cent increase in frontal and temporal lobe tumours – the areas of the brain most susceptible to the electromagnetic radiation emitted by mobile phones – between 1999 and 2009.

Caroline Lucas, MP for Brighton Pavilion and Green Party leader, will next week table an Early Day Motion calling for mandatory safety information at the point of sale, and for widely publicized advice, for young people in particular, to text, use headsets or corded landlines for long calls.

But the Health Protection Agency’s new report on the “potential health effects” on mobile phone technologies on Thursday is likely to conclude that there is only one established risk, and that is crashing the car if people talk and drive.

The scientists cannot agree, so what should the public be told?

Independent

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3 responses to “A close call: Why the jury is still out on mobile phones

  1. Eric Baumholer

    In one experiment, mice with Alzheimer’s were bombarded with cell phone radiation. They regained their memory functions and performed nearly as well as non-Alzheimer controls.

  2. Eric, can you provide a reference?

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