Thursday, June 24, 2010

Evidence mounts on links between cell phones and brain tumors

A growing body of evidence, dating back to the 1960s, suggests that brain tumors may be only one of the many health problems produced by our new wireless society will produce.

Cell-phone technology "could lead to a health crisis similar to those caused by asbestos, smoking, and lead in petrol," warned the European Union's environmental watchdog agency in 2007.

The most ambitious attempt to catalogue the health risks of cell phones to date is the industry-funded Interphone study, carried out by researchers from 13 different countries (not including the United States). Although the study has been criticized for selecting data in a way designed to play down the risks of cell phone use, it continues to turn up alarming findings nonetheless. Among the findings so far are a 40 percent increase in brain tumor risk among adults who use a cell phone for 10 years (especially on the side of the head where the phone is held); a 300 percent increased risk of acoustic nerve tumors; and an increased risk of tumors of the parotid gland. The risk of a brain tumor increases by 400 percent in people who start using a cell phone before the age of 20.

Other studies, mostly out of Europe, have linked mobile phone and personal digital assistant (PDA) use to DNA damage, sperm death, and brain damage including early-onset dementia. These findings regularly make big news in the international press, but are by and large played down in U.S. media.

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