Is there a link between wireless devices and brain cancer?


A study has found that those who talk on their mobile phones could triple their risk of brain cancer over the long-term.

It was found that people who had talked on cordless or mobile phones for more than 25 years were at higher risk than those who have used them for less than one year.

The researchers reported that the chances of developing glioma, a brain cancer which is often deadly, increased with years and hours of use.

These new findings are in sharp contrast to the largest-ever study done on the topic, the international Interphone study, which was carried out by the International Agency for Research on Cancer and part-funded by cell phone companies. That study, which was published during 2010, failed to find any real evidence that the risk of brain tumours is increased by mobile phone usage.

However, even if the chances of developing glioma were doubled or trebled, the risk is still low.

Dr Lennart Hardell, an oncologist from University Hospital in Orebro, Sweden, and his colleague, Michael Carlberg, matched 1380 patients suffering with malignant brain tumours to those without tumours, and compared their phone usage habits. They found that those who had used mobile or cordless phones for 20 to 25 years were at double the risk of being diagnosed with glioma as those who had used them for less than one year.

Those who had used these devices for longer than 25 years were at three times the risk of developing the tumour.

The study did not show a link between wireless phones and malignant brain tumours, other than glioma.

There is an argument that this type of study is limited as it relies on participants being able to remember their behaviour from many years ago.

Dr Gabriel Zada, a neurosurgeon based at the University of Southern California, recommended that people take precautionary measures, such as using a hands-free headset or the phone’s speaker. He added that this new study failed to answer questions from patients about why they developed brain tumours.

He said the answer to this is far more involved than simply saying that it was caused by cell phone usage.

Research done by Dr Zada previously discovered that the rate of malignant tumours in sections of the brain closest to where people hold their phones, increased dramatically from 1992 to 2006 in California. However, the study which was published during 2012 stated that the incidence of gliomas in the brain decreased.

The use of cell phones trebled in the US between 2000 and 2010. However, the rates of cancer in sections of the brain that would be more exposed to radiofrequency radiation from mobile phones had not increased when a report was published during 2010.

Dr Zada believes that the current study indicates the need for more research.
During 2011, a World Health Organisation panel of 31 scientists from 14 countries stated that mobile phones should be classified as ‘potentially carcinogenic’.

Dr Hardell is of the opinion that emissions from cordless phone base stations could cause a problem, particularly if users sleep next to it. He added that children are most vulnerable to the emissions from telephones. This is due to them having smaller heads, higher brain conductivity and thinner skulls. He added that girls tend to place their smart phones under their pillows and this is an extremely bad habit and should be avoided.

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