Researchers Say Cell Phone Exposure Is Unlikely To Cause Cancer

Study Links Cancer in Male Rats to High Levels of Cellphone Radiation but Experts Say You Needn't Worry

Questions about whether cellphones harm health have persisted for decades.

We all know that use of mobile phones can be damaging to our sleep and our general levels of productivity at work, but are they detrimental to our health? The toxicology program is headquartered at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.

As part of the research, the rodents were divided into different study arms that were exposed to different levels of radiation.

They found a higher incidence of malignant heart tumors in the male rats but not in female rats nor in any of the mice. The first is that the studies involved 2G and 3G signals, not the current generation 4G or upcoming 5G signals, so any risk specific to LTE will not have been noted.

One issue experts have with this study is that the researchers used radiation exposures far higher than the average human experiences in a day.

"The typical cell phone call has radiofrequency radiation emissions that are very, very, very much lower than what we studied", John Bucher, PhD, senior scientist at the National Toxicology Program (NTP), said during a media teleconference to summarize the study results. It's so unusual in the heart that doctors often write up their findings for medical journals when the tumors are found in cardiac tissue.

Unlike ionising radiation such as that from gamma rays, radon and X-rays, which can break chemical bonds in the body and are known to cause cancer, radiofrequency devices such as cellphones and microwaves emit radiofrequency energy, a form of non-ionising radiation. Similarly, the researchers observed noncancerous health effects-including lower birth weights, evidence of DNA damage, and heart conditions-among exposed rats, although it was not always clear whether the conditions were caused by radiation exposure. The two studies, one in rats and one in mice, looked at the effects of the type of radiation cellphones emit over the past ten years.

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Bucher briefly reviewed the study design.

Dr Jeffrey Shuren, head of the FDA's radiological health division, said there is not enough evidence to say cellphone use poses health risks to people.

Most scientists aren't swayed either way by these studies.

Male rats probably shouldn't be lining up for the iPhone X, according to a massive new government study. The panel led by Samet, dean of the Colorado State University School of Public Health in Fort Collins, was organized by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, a specialized agency of the World Health Organization. "Even with frequent daily use by the vast majority of adults, we have not seen an increase in events like brain tumors", the FDA's statement says. "Based on this current information, we believe the current safety limits for cellphones are acceptable for protecting the public health".

"I think the reports don't go much further than what we reported earlier, and I have not changed the way I use a cellphone, no", said Bucher.

US researchers spent almost two decades to design and carry out a definitive study on the health effects of cellphone radiation. It notes that a major European study of cellphones and brain tumor risk is expected to report results later this year.

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