May 17, 2010
Results of a major international study examining potential links between cell phone use and brain cancer are inconclusive. The 10-year study, conducted by the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research in Cancer, surveyed some 13,000 cell phone users but still didn't resolve the issue.
Another study of at least 250,000 cell phone users has been launched in Europe to examine the detrimental medical effects, if any, of cell phone use. That study will cover a 30-year period. Cell phones transmit a miniscule amount of radiation and some medical researchers have urged mobile phone users to beware of excessively using their handsets. The $24 million WHO report, due to be published Tuesday in a scientific journal, is the latest in a long line of reports that haven't found an increased incidence of cancer associated with cell phone usage. Both of the studies -- the WHO report and the new European research -- have received some funding from mobile phone industry sources. The GSM Association, a trade group which represents the majority of carriers delivering service to most of the world's 5 billion cell phone users, said that the WHO study was funded by governments, national health agencies, and mobile industry sources "in a way that ensures the complete scientific independence of the work carried out." One of the shortcomings of the WHO research is the tiny incidence of the two major types of brain cancer examined -- meningioma and glioma -- and the difficulty of pinpointing their cause and occurrence. "An increased risk of brain cancer is not established from the data," Dr. Christopher Wild, director of the International Agency for Research on Cancer, said in a statement. "However, observations at the highest level of cumulative call time and the changing patterns of mobile phone use since the period studied... particularly in young people, mean that further investigation of mobile phone use and brain cancer risk is merited."
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