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Tuesday, 19 December, 2000, 23:40 GMT
Mobile phone cancer fears 'unfounded'
Link to cancer 'unfounded'
Fears over the effects of mobile phone use remain
Fears that mobile phones may increase the risk of brain cancer are unfounded, according to American researchers.

They found no link between the amount of mobile phone use and the development of brain cancer.

But the researchers say more studies over longer time periods are needed, before it can be assumed that the long-term health use of mobile, or cellular, phones is safe.

Researchers from the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York and the American Health Foundation (AHF), along with four other American cancer centres, carried out the study.

Dr Joshua Muscat, from the AHF, lead author of the study, said: "The recent phenomenon of widespread use of cellular phones had been a suspected risk factor for the development of brain cancer and needed to be clarified by a study.

'No correlation

"The data showed no correlation between the use of cell phones and the development of brain cancer. In addition, there was no association between the amount of cell phone usage and brain cancer."

The researchers studied the mobile phone use of 891 people, half of whom had brain cancer, over a four-year period.

We found no link between cell phone usage and temporal lobe tumours

Dr Mark Malkin
Research author

People with cancer used their phones for around 2.5 hours a month, and those in the control group used them for 2.2 hours a month.

They were interviewed between 1994 and 1998, about the kind of phone they used, the amount of time they used their phone every month, when they had first used a mobile, and what their average monthly bill was.

The group with cancer were aged 18 to 80, and there was no difference between them and the group without cancer in terms of age, sex, race, education and occupation.

'No antenna link'

Dr Mark Malkin, a neuro-oncologist at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, and co-author of the study, said: "Because 85% of people in the study reported extending the antenna during calls, we might have expected to find a disproportionate cluster of tumours behind the eye and the ear on the side the cell phone was used, since emission is highest at the antenna.

"In fact we found no link between cell phone usage and temporal lobe tumours, nor was there any association between handedness and tumour location."

The American authors also highlighted a Swedish study, in which preliminary findings had produced similar results.

Roger Coghill, a UK biologist who has studied the effects of mobile phones, said the research had been carried out over too short a period of time: "You do need a period of time to see these cancers emerge, especially brain cancer."

And he said other research had found links between mobile phones and certain kinds of brain cancer.

The study is published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

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08 Dec 00 | Health
7m for mobile health research
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