Cell Phone Users 'At Greater Risk of Brain Tumor'

by Charles Arthur
Technology Editor, The Independent, London

September 5, 2001

People who used mobile phones for two hours a day in the 1980s and early 1990s have a "significantly raised" risk of developing a brain tumor, a Swedish scientist has found.

The study by Lennart Hardell, a cancer specialist at Orebro University in Sweden, is a landmark piece of research in the debate over whether the microwave radiation put out by mobile phone handsets can cause cancer. It is due to be published later this year. His research compared 1,600 people who survived brain tumors with 1,600 healthy people. He found that those who had used mobile phones for more than five years were 26 percent more likely, and those who used them for more than a decade were 77 percent more likely, to develop a brain tumor than those who did not. The tumors were 2.5 times more likely to be on the same side of the head as the phone was usually held.

The findings will fuel the debate over the use of mobile phones by children which grew in intensity when speakers at the British Association science conference in Glasgow condemned companies for encouraging young people to use the phones.

Professor Hardell said it was not possible to extend his results directly to modern phones, which emit about 10 times less power that the older analogue ones. But he did advise adopting a "precautionary" approach.

Dr. Michael Clark, of the National Radiological Protection Board, which set limits on radiation exposure, said: "A study like this has to be taken seriously... but analogue phones were pretty much phased out around 1997. The new digital ones emit significantly less power."

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