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Tuesday, 23 April, 2002, 09:34 GMT 10:34 UK
Mobiles cleared of ear cancer link
Mobile user
There are concerns over the safety of mobile phones
Scientists have found no evidence that using a mobile phone increases the risk of a type of ear cancer.

The debate on the safety of mobile phones has see-sawed for nearly a decade, creating widespread public fear and confusion, and prompting a vast number of studies into the health effects of the phones, and the transmitter masts needed to relay calls.

The risk of acoustic neuroma was unrelated to cellular telephone use

Dr Joshua Muscat
The latest study was carried out at the New York University Medical Centre, involving 90 patients with a type of cancer known as an acoustic neuroma - a tumour of the inner ear.

There are no established environmental causes of acoustic neuroma - but there had been concern that hand-held cellular phone users were at increased risk.

The radio frequency radiation emitted from cellular phones is absorbed superficially on the skin and bones surrounding the ear, and through the skull behind the ear.

But the researchers found no link between increased mobile phone use and this type of cancer.

However, they say their study focused on short-term mobile phone use, and recommend more studies on longer-term users.

Widespread use

Researcher Dr Joshua Muscat said: "The risk of acoustic neuroma was unrelated to cellular telephone use.

"A slightly elevated risk was found for subjects with three or more years of cell phone use, but these subjects were also infrequent users.

"No association was observed with cumulative use, and we found no evidence of a trend in the odds of risk with increasing levels of exposure."

In Britain, where there are more than 40m mobile phones, the government recently announced more than a dozen research projects on the possible risks.

The move followed an independent report in May 2000 that recommended limiting their use, especially in children.

These projects will cover a diverse range of diseases, including leukaemia and brain cancer, as well as whether mobile phone use might affect brain function, blood pressure, or the ability to drive.

The research is published in Neurology, the scientific journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

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