Results from the largest international study on cell phones and cancer in 2010, showed that people who used cell phones for 10 years or more, had doubled their rate of brain glioma, a type of tumor.
WHO now lists mobile phone use as a possible carcinogenic hazard, along with lead, engine exhaust gas, and chloroform, after 31 scientists from 14 countries, including the USA, reviewed a stack of scientific peer reviewed studies on cell phone safety.
The review confirms some evidence of increase in glioma and acoustic neuroma brain cancer for mobile phone users, but have not been able to draw conclusions for other types of cancers.
Distance is radiation protection
Manufacturers of many popular cell phones warn consumers to keep their device at least 15mm (Apple iPhone 4 manual) or 25mm (Blackberry manual) away from their body, or to use a speaker phone option. Using wired earpieces is a less secure option, and wireless earpieces may merely bring radiation sources closer to the brain.
Radiation intensity lowers exponentially with distance. Some scientists recommend texing SMS instead of talking, and keeping cell phones in a bag instead of on a belt near soft body organs.
Cell phones emit most radiation when connecting to cellular towers, during initial ‘ringing’. A moving phone, or in an area with a weak signal, emits more radiation. People should not use cell phones in elevators, parking garages, buildings, and rural areas.
Most environmental factors take several decades of exposure to effect human health, said Dr Keith Black, chairman of neurology at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.
Cell phones like small microwaves
Cell phones radiate non-ionising energy, unlike X-rays, like very low-powered microwave ovens. Microwave radiation slowly, slowly cooks the brain, Black said, “causing development of cancer and tumors”, and “there could be a host of other effects, like cognitive memory loss in temporal lobes.”
Cell phone suppliers said the review “does not mean cell phones cause cancer.” The USA Wireless Association said WHO researchers “did not conduct any new research.”
EU raises radiation alarm
The European Environmental Agency calls for more studies, saying cell phones could be as big a public health risk as smoking, asbestos and leaded gasoline, reports CNN.
The head of a cancer research institute at the University of Pittsburgh in the USA sent a memo to all employees urging them to limit cell phone use because of a possible risk of cancer.
Occupational cell phone radiation exposure
Some workers use cell phones at work, but phone radiation is not recognised as an ococupational health risk . Workers at greatest risk of cell phoone radiation include logistics sectors.
SOme mines and construction employers use or depend on cell phones, instead of two way ‘walkie talky’ radios. Some studies reveal that the greatest cause of radiation exposure in cell phone users, is the integration of aerials into the device. Aerials take the radiation focal point away from the user.
Children at greater risk of radiation
There have been no long-term studies on the effects of cell phone usage among children. “Children’s skulls and scalps are thinner, their brains smaller, and their cells divide at a faster rate, so the impact of radiation can be much larger,” said Dr Black of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.
In February 2011, a study by the USA National Institutes of Health, revealed radiation emitted after 50 minutes on a mobile phone increases activity in brain cells. The effects of brain activity being artificially stimulated are unknown.
PHOTO; Brain scans before and after cell phone use, reveal increased heat in the temporal lobe, where cognitive memory is located. Most of the health effects of low level microwave radiation remain unknown. Some studies commissioned by cell phone and network suppliers remain unpublished.