Public health: The hidden menace of mobile phones

Research into the link between regular handset use and disease reveals the risks rise significantly after 10 years, despite official assurances that they are safe. Using a mobile phone for more than 10 years increases the risk of getting brain cancer, according to the most comprehensive study of the risks yet published.

The study – which contradicts official pronouncements that there is no danger of getting the disease – found that people who have had the phones for a decade or more are twice as likely to get a malignant tumour on the side of the brain where they hold the handset.

The scientists who conducted the research say using a mobile for just an hour every working day during that period is enough to increase the risk – and that the international standard used to protect users from the radiation emitted is "not safe" and "needs to be revised".

They conclude that "caution is needed in the use of mobile phones" and believe children, who are especially vulnerable, should be discouraged from using them at all.

The study, published in the latest issue of the peer-reviewed journal Occupational Environmental Medicine, is important because it pulls together research on people who have used the phones for long enough to contract the disease.

Cancers take at least 10 years – and normally much longer – to develop but, as mobile phones have spread so recently and rapidly, relatively few people have been using them that long.
Official assurances that the phones are safe have been based on research that has, at best, included only a few people who have been exposed to the radiation for long enough to get the disease, and are therefore of little or no value in assessing the real risk.

Last month, Britain's largest investigation into the health risks of the technology, the £8.8m Mobile Telecommunications and Health Research (MTHR) programme – funded by "government and industry sources" – reported that "mobile phones have not been found to be associated with any biological or adverse health effects".

But its chairman, Professor Lawrie Challis, admitted that only a small proportion of the research had covered people who had used the phones for more than a decade. He warned: "We cannot rule out the possibility at this stage that cancer could appear in a few years' time."

Source - Independent

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