Major study on cellphone and cancer inconclusive

Published by rudy Date posted on May 22, 2010

GENEVA — A major international study into the link between cellphone use and two types of brain cancer has proved inconclusive, according to a report in a medical journal.

The survey of almost 13,000 participants found cellphone use didn’t increase the risk of developing meningioma — a common and frequently benign tumor — or glioma — a rarer but deadlier form of cancer.

The 10-year study, which was conducted by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer, concluded there were “suggestions” that heavy use could increase the risk of glioma but “biases and error prevent a causal interpretation” that would directly blame cellphone radiation for the tumor.

Heavy use was defined as 30 minutes or more of calls a day.

The authors acknowledged that one source of possible inaccuracies was the fact that participants were asked to remember how much and on which ear they used their mobiles over the past decade.

Results for some groups showed cellphone use appeared to lessen the risk of developing cancers, something the researchers described as “implausible.”

The authors said further investigation is necessary before they can conclude there is no link between cellphone radiation and brain cancer. People’s use of the devices has changed considerably since the start of the study in 2000, they noted.

Scientists are also planning to examine whether cellphone use increases the risk of tumors in the ear’s acoustic nerve and the parotid gland, where saliva is produced.

A separate study will look into the effects of cellphone use on children, who are believed to be more susceptible to the effects of radiation.

The paper, published in the International Journal of Epidemiology, was compiled by researchers in 13 countries including Britain, Canada, France, Germany and Japan, but not the US.

Scientists interviewed 12,848 participants, of which 5,150 had either meningioma or glioma tumors.

Almost a quarter of the $23.98 million required to fund the study was provided by the cellphone industry.

Network operators and handset companies had keenly anticipated the results of the study, which could have threatened the rapid development of their business.

There were an estimated 4.6 billion mobile phone subscriptions at the end of last year, compared with about one billion in 2002, according to the International Telecommunication Union. –AP (The Philippine Star)

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