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No short-term health risks from mobile phones

15 September, 2007

Mobile phones do not pose health problems to adults in the short term.

However, a large-scale investigation conducted in the United Kingdom into the possible medical risks from mobile telephone technology has concluded
that a long-term cancer prognosis cannot be ruled out.

The research, which ran six years and included the most extensive and vigorous studies of electrical hypersensitivity undertaken anywhere in the world, said its basic finding was that mobile phones have not so far been found to be associated with any biological or adverse health effects.

The Mobile Telecommunications and Health Research (MTHR) Program said it had not found any association between short-term mobile phone use and brain cancer, but added that it could not pronounce on the effects of longer-term use.

But, Professor Lawrie Challis, chairman of the MTHR program, said the research had studied only very few people who had used mobiles regularly for longer than 10 years. Cancers do not normally appear until 10 to 15 years after exposure. “However,” Professor Challis added, “overall the evidence that mobile phones did not pose a significant health risk was pretty reassuring.”

According to the most recent estimates available, the total number of mobile phone subscribers in the world was estimated at 2.14 billion in 2005. India recently overtook China as the world’s fastest-growing mobile phone market.

The British program said it found there was only a slight excess reporting of brain and ear cancers. Professor Challis said the program had found “slight
hint” of a higher cancer risk. Researchers said this finding straddled the borderline of statistical significance.

Another question raised was over the effects of mobile phones on children. “At this stage, we have no evidence at all that mobile phones or masts hurt
children,” Professor Challis said. “But we do know that children react differently to, and often more severely than do adults, to a number of other environmental agents such as lead, tobacco smoke, ultraviolet radiation, and ionising radiation."

The British program reported that studies on volunteers showed no evidence that brain function was adversely affected by mobile-phone signals or the signals used by the emergency services.

A study by the University of Essex, the United Kingdom, had earlier dismissed the notion that mobile-phone masts can cause symptoms such as anxiety and nausea in sensitive individuals.

Three years ago, a thin-sample survey by a Swedish institute had found that using a mobile phone for 10 years or more increases the risk of ear tumors by four times. It is this risk that the new British report on September 12, 2007, finds itself unable to pronounce upon.





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