Long-term use of mobile phones
Published: 8:00AM BST 24 Oct 2009
A £20million, decade-long investigation overseen by the World Health Organisation (WHO) will publish evidence that heavy users face a higher risk of developing brain tumours later in life, The Daily Telegraph can disclose.
The conclusion, while not definitive, will undermine assurances from the government that the devices are safe and is expected to put ministers under pressure to issue stronger guidance.
A preliminary breakdown of the results found a "significantly increased risk" of some brain tumours "related to use of mobile phones for a period of 10 years or more" in some studies.
The head of the Interphone investigation said that the report would include a "public health message".
Britain's Department of Health has not updated its guidance for more than four years. It says that "the current balance of evidence does not show health problems caused by using mobile phones", and suggests only that children be "discouraged" from making "non-essential" calls while adults should "keep calls short".
In contrast, several other countries, notably France, have begun strengthening warnings and American politicians are urgently investigating the risks.
The Interphone inquiry has been investigating whether exposure to mobile phones is linked to three types of brain tumour and a tumour of the salivary gland.
Its head, Dr Elisabeth Cardis, backed new warnings.
"In the absence of definitive results and in the light of a number of studies which, though limited, suggest a possible effect of radiofrequency radiation, precautions are important," she said.
"I am therefore globally in agreement with the idea of restricting the use by children, though I would not go as far as banning mobile phones as they can be a very important tool, not only in emergencies, but also maintaining contact between children and their parents and thus playing a reassurance role.
"Means to reduce our exposure (use of hands-free kits and moderating our use of phones) are also interesting."
The project conducted studies in 13 countries, interviewing tumour sufferers and people in good health to see whether their mobile phone use differed. It questioned about 12,800 people between 2000 and 2004.
Previous research into the health effects of mobile phones, in the short time they have been in use, has proved inconclusive. However, a breakdown of the latest findings, seen by The Daily Telegraph, shows that six of eight Interphone studies found some rise in the risk of glioma (the most common brain tumour), with one finding a 39 per cent increase.
Two of seven studies into acoustic neurinoma (a benign tumour of a nerve between the ear and brain) reported a higher risk after using mobiles for 10 years. A Swedish report said it was 3.9 times higher.
A summary said a definitive link could not be proved because of difficulties with subjects' memories.
An Israeli study found heavy users were about 50 per cent more likely to suffer tumours of the parotid salivary gland.
The Interphone inquiry has faced criticism for including people who made just one call a week, and leaving out children, which some experts said could underplay the risks. Some results for short-term use appeared to show protection against cancer, suggesting flaws in the study.
The final paper, funded partly by the industry, has been delayed as its authors argued over how to present the conclusions. But it has been sent to a scientific journal and will be published before the end of the year.
A spokesman for the Health Protection Agency said there was "no hard evidence at present" of harm to health. Use by children for non-essential calls should be discouraged, he added.
A spokesman for the Mobile Operators Association said more than 30 scientific reviews had found no adverse health effects
(Sent by several kind persons)
Ailing residents blame radiation
RESIDENTS in a northwest China city are blaming the electromagnetic
radiation from a mobile telecommunications base station built close to
their homes for deteriorating health .
Worsening eyesight, sore necks, insomnia and hair losses have recently
become a hot topic among the nearly 100 residents of more than 60
households in Pingliang City's Kongtong District, yesterday's China
Youth Daily reported.
They pin the blame on EMR from the base station for their ailments.
Those suffering the most are residents living closest to the base
station, they said.
Liu Shuwen, who runs a hair salon in the neighborhood, told the
newspaper that nearly all her customers complained of hair loss,
including young children. She is also a victim, said the report.
Her neighbor Zhou Biying, 43, is nearly bald. Zhou and her husband,
both natives of Sichuan Province, moved to the neighborhood in October
2004, attracted by the low rent, the couple told the newspaper. They
plan to move out.
The base station was set up in 2002, according to Lu Xiulian, who has
lived here for 20 years. The station is about 10 meters away from her
house. Most of the other residents moved there after 2003.
In another area, retired medical professionals of Pingliang People's
Hospital have lodged a protest over a mobile telecom base station
built nearby, citing health concerns, the report said.
"We are professionals and know how EMR can harm people's health ," Hao
Youfu, a senior pharmacist, told the newspaper.
Hao, 76, joined a protest with more than 30 other residents against
the tower in October 2008. The residents have forwarded their concerns
to the city government.
Their efforts proved in vain as the tower was built only 10 meters
from their homes.
Pharmacist Zhang Wei, 46, said he was suffering insomnia and hair loss.
Along with the residents' complaints, an argument is going on in the
industry over the health hazards of EMR.
But it is agreed that within a safe range EMR poses no harm to
people's health .
China's official radiation limit is 40 microwatts, according to Wang
Yi, EMR expert with the Ministry of Environmental Protection.
for your information.
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