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Friday, 18 February 2011 18:03

Latest study says cellphones won't give you brain cancer

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A new study has concluded that there is no link between mobile phone usage and brain cancer: by simply tracking the incidence of brain cancers over the years when mobile phone usage was escalating rapidly.

The study by University of Manchester - published in the journal of BioElectroMagnetics -  used publically available data from the UK Office of National Statistics to look at trends in rates of newly diagnosed brain cancers in England between 1998 and 2007. It found no statistically significant change in the incidence of brain cancers in men or women during this period.

"Cell phone use in the United Kingdom and other countries has risen steeply since the early 1990s when the first digital cell phones were introduced," said lead author Dr Frank de Vocht, an expert in occupational and environmental health in the University of Manchester's School of Community-Based Medicine.

"There is an on-going controversy about whether radio frequency exposure from cell phones increases the risk of brain cancer. Our findings indicate that a causal link between cell phone use and cancer is unlikely because there is no evidence of any significant increase in the disease since their introduction and rapid proliferation."

The authors say there is no plausible biological mechanism for radio waves to damage our genes directly, thereby causing cells to become cancerous. Radio frequency exposure, they argue, if related to cancer is more likely to promote growth in an existing brain tumour.

As such, the researchers say they would expect an increase in the number of diagnosed cases within five to 10 years of the introduction of cell phones and for this increase to continue as cell phone use became more widespread.

de Vocht: added: "It is very unlikely that we are at the forefront of a brain cancer epidemic related to cell phones, as some have suggested, although we did observe a small increased rate of brain cancers in the temporal lobe corresponding to the time period when cell phone use rose from zero to 65 percent of households. However, to put this into perspective, if this specific rise in tumour incidence was caused by cell phone use, it would contribute to less than one additional case per 100,000 population in a decade."

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