Prolonged mobile phone use linked to cancer

Findings of an international study have found that the long-term use of mobile phones may be linked to some forms of cancer.

The £20 million investigation that spanned close to a decade was administered by the World Health Organization (WHO). It has established that heavy users of mobile phones face a greater risk of developing brain tumors later in life.

The Interphone research, which comprised studies across 13 countries between 2000 and 2004, has been examining whether mobile handsets, three types of brain tumor and a tumor of the salivary gland are linked. For the purpose of the study, 12,800 people across these countries were administered questionnaires.

The preliminary findings

A preliminary breakdown of the results found a “significantly increased risk” of some brain tumors due to “the use of mobile phones for a period of ten years or more” in some studies, revealed sources familiar with the investigation.

Six out of eight of the studies found a little rise in the risk of glioma, the commonest brain tumor. One study found that this risk could rise by as much as 39 percent.

Two of seven studies examining a benign tumor of a nerve between the ear and the brain, termed as acoustic neurinoma, too, reported an enhanced threat after using mobiles for a decade.

The conclusions, while not definitive, are likely to change the way how users think of the mobile phones.

It will also certainly force the mobile phone companies and service providers to scout for a technological breakthrough that negates such an adverse impact. That, of course, is a long drawn idea.

The most immediate reaction is expected from the government by way of stringent guidance governing the use of mobile phones.

Curbing children’s cell phone use advised

Dr Elisabeth Cardis, head of the study, said of the findings, “In the absence of definitive results and in the light of a number of studies which, though limited, suggest a possible effect of radio frequency radiation , precautions are important.”

Cardis said that the detailed published report of the study would comprise a “public health message” as well even as she suggested the use of mobiles by children be restricted.

“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,” advised Dr Cardis.

The finalization of the study has been delayed amid arguments on how to present its conclusions. The results have been sent to a scientific journal now and the publication is expected by year-end.