Monday, May 24, 1999 Published at 15:42 GMT 16:42 UK
Mobile phone cancer study 'flawed'
The number of people using mobile phones is increasing
A study that researchers claim suggests links between using mobile phones and brain tumours is flawed, radiation experts have said.
The findings were revealed on Monday in an edition of the BBC's Panorama programme.
The researchers who conducted the study called on the mobile phone industry to acknowledge that its product poses a risk to human health.
But the industry denied there is any proven risk to health associated with the devices.
Reduced time using phones
Scientists told Panorama that people should cut down the time they spend using mobile phones, and consider using low-emission phones or hands-free devices.
The scientists say the findings from the new studies could be a "problem", and are calling for the public to be given full health information on the use of mobiles.
Other investigations have recently suggested that it is too soon to say for certain that mobile phones cause harm to health, and one even found they can help to improve reaction times.
'Biological indication of problems'
But on Panorama, Swedish cancer specialist Dr Lennart Hardell, author of one of the new studies, says there is a biological indication of a problem that needs further research.
His study, which has yet to be published, looked at brain tumour sufferers and found a connection between phone use and cancer.
The risk for those using their phone on the left side was also increased by almost two-and-a-half-times.
'No overall increased risk'
But the NRPB said it has seen the Swedish findings, and quotes the authors as saying: "In this study we did not find an overall increased risk for brain tumour associated with exposure to cellular phones."
The NRPB said the study did not involve enough people to offer compelling evidence, and any difference in risk it did find was not statistically significant.
It said that the study showed there was no evidence of increased risk with increased use.
Information on the use of mobile phones was gathered by questionnaire, the NRPB said.
Scientists usually regard information gathered in such a way as being potentially unreliable.
Research funded by phone industry
However, the NRPB did not comment on another study by Dr George Carlo, head of a $25m research body funded by the mobile phone industry in the US
He speaks out for the first time on Panorama about his study, which he also says shows an increased risk of getting a type of rare brain tumour from using mobile phones.
He said that taking into account the two new studies, it is no longer a responsible position for the manufacturers to say there is no problem.
"We clearly have results that suggest there could be something more here than meets the eye.
"The science we have today clearly shows that this is not black and white.
"That we have moved now into a grey area that suggests that there could be a problem that needs to be looked at very, very carefully.
"That grey area needs to be acknowledged," he says.
'Research indicates no health risk'
But Tom Wills-Sandford, director of the Federation of the Electronic Industry - which represents mobile phone network operators - said research supported the industry's position.
The programme also spoke to people who claim they have been made ill by mobile phones.
Steve Corney, who was a BT engineer four years ago and used a new digital phone for up to five hours at a time, tells the programme he now suffers memory loss and speech problems, and is out of work.
Variation in emission rates
Research carried out exclusively for Panorama by the National Physical Laboratory also features in the programme.
This is measured by what is known as a specific absorption rate (SAR). An SAR is measured by Watts of radiation energy per kilogram of brain.
An SAR of 10 Watts per kilogram is the safety limit set by the NRPB.
The research shows that although all eight of the phones tested were below the safety limit, there was a considerable difference between the lowest and the highest.