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A round peg in a world of square holes...

Friday, October 12, 2007

A voice in the wilderness, eh?



Mobile phone cancer risk 'higher for children'

By Harry Wallop, Telegraph
October 9, 2007

Children should not be given mobile phones because using them for more than 10 years increases the risk of brain cancer, a leading scientist has said.

People who have used their phone for a decade are twice as likely to be diagnosed with a tumour on a nerve connecting the ear to the brain, according to a group of scientists who have surveyed the results of 11 different studies.

Prof Kjell Mild, of Orbero University, Sweden, who is a Government adviser and led the research, said that children should not be allowed to use mobile phones because their thinner skulls and developing nervous system made them particularly vulnerable.

His study comes just a month after a separate piece of research, jointly funded by the Government and the mobile phone industry, found there was only a "very faint hint" of a link between long-term use of mobile phones and brain tumours.

This six-year, £8.8 million Mobile Telecommunications and Health Research (MTHR) programme came under fire for failing to investigate more thoroughly those who had used their phones for more than a decade.

Most scientists have had difficulty researching this area as mobile phone usage did not become widespread until the late 1990s.

Professor Mild said the danger may be even greater than his study suggests because 10 years is the minimum period needed by cancers to develop.

"I find it quite strange to see so many official presentations saying that there is no risk. There are strong indications that something happens after 10 years," he said.

He has called for more research, especially into a possible link between mobile phones and Alzheimer's disease, since "we have indications that it might be a problem", as well as a possible link with Parkinson's.

The need for greater research has been echoed by Prof Lawrie Challis, who led the MTHR research.

He has confirmed that a second wave of studies - funded by the Government and the phone industry - would include a long-term look at the health of 200,000 mobile users in Britain, Denmark, Sweden and Finland.

The Swedish scientists' initial findings were unveiled in April but are published in full in the latest issue of the peer-reviewed journal Occupational Environmental Review.

They want a revision of the emission standard for mobiles and other sources of radiation, which they describe as "inappropriate" and "not safe".

The international standard is designed merely to prevent harmful heating of living tissue or induced electrical currents in the body, and does not take into account the risk of getting cancer.

(Source)

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Only ten minutes on a mobile could trigger cancer, scientists believe

By David Derbyshire, Daily Mail
August 30, 2007

Mobile phones can take as little as ten minutes to trigger changes in the brain associated with cancer, scientists claimed yesterday.

They found even low levels of radiation from handsets interfere with the way brain cells divide. Cell division encourages the growth of tumours.

Although the researchers did not come up with evidence that mobile phone signals are harmful, the findings suggest they could be.

Several major studies have also found no link between mobile use and brain tumours, nor a dramatic rise in cancer rates.

But campaigners insist the discovery undermines official advice that the devices are safe.

The guidance is based on the assumption that the phones emit too little radiation to heat the brain dangerously.

However, the new study by the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel suggests "nonthermal" radiation could pose a risk.

The Israeli scientists exposed human and rat cells in a laboratory to low-level radiation at 875 megahertz - a similar frequency to the one used in many mobile phones.

Although the radiation was far weaker than emissions from a typical handset, it began to switch on a chemical signal inside the cells within ten minutes, the researchers report in the Biochemical Journal.

The chemical signals they detected were involved in the division of cells.

The researchers say the reaction was not caused by heating and claim they have found a separate way in which mobile phones could damage health.

Dr Rony Seger, a co-author of the study, told the magazine New Scientist: "The significance lies in showing cells do react to cellphone radiation in a non-thermal way."

Although changes in the chemical pathway seen by the Israeli scientists have been linked to several cancers, the researchers say there was no sign of a cancer-causing effect.

Dr Simon Arthur, a health expert at Dundee University, said the effect was 'unlikely to cause cancer'.

Dr Dariusz Leszczynski, of the Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority in Helsinki, said: "If cell-phone radiation cannot induce biological effects then there will never be any health effects.

"On the other hand if we can show this radiation is able to induce biological effects then we have a different story."

A major review of mobile phone safety is due to be published by the Health Protection Agency next month.

The agency's last major report, in 2004, found no evidence mobiles were a serious health risk. It did, however, caution against excessive use, especially by the young.

Dr Michael Clark, a spokesman for the agency, said: "Because of findings like this that pop up from time to time, a precautionary approach is justified."

Graham Philips, of campaign group Powerwatch, said: "Safety guidelines assume health effects from mobiles can only occur when significant heating of body tissue occurs.

"This study shows biological changes in response to low-level mobile phone radiation - something that could potentially have implications for health.

"Further research is required, however guidance based purely on thermal effects is clearly out of date."

(Source)

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Mobile phone use 'linked to tumour'

By Nic Fleming, Telegraph
January 26, 2007

Long-term users of mobile phones are significantly more likely to develop a certain type of brain tumour on the side of the head where they hold their handsets, according to new research.

A large-scale study found that those who had regularly used mobiles for longer than 10 years were almost 40 per cent more likely to develop nervous system tumours called gliomas near to where they hold their phones.

The new research, to be published later this year in the International Journal of Cancer, is the second study to suggest increased risks of specific types of brain tumours in regions close to where mobile phone emissions enter the head.

However, a number of other studies have found no increased health risks associated with mobile phone use.

Prof Lawrie Challis, the chairman of the government-funded Mobile Telecommunications Health Research (MTHR) programme, said last week that most research had shown that mobiles were safe in the short term but that there was a "hint of something" for longer-term users.

Prof Challis, who is negotiating funding for a long-term international study, said last night: "I agree with the authors that this is a hint that needs further exploration. It's further reason why a long-term study is necessary."

Louis Slesin, the editor of Microwave News, a US newsletter on radiation and health that reported the new study, said: "We now have two tumour types found among people who use mobiles for more than 10 years shown by two different research groups. That is compelling evidence."

Researchers from the Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority in Finland compared the mobile phone use of 1,521 people with gliomas with that of 3,301 people without the cancers.

Before separating out long-term users or looking at the different risks of developing tumours on the side where users held the phone, the scientists found no link between mobile use and gliomas.

However when they looked only at people who had used a mobile for 10 years or more, they found that they were 39 per cent more likely than average to get a glioma on the side of their head where they held their handset.

Prof Anssi Auvinen, an epidemiologist involved in the study, said: "It seems credible as it was after long-term exposure — which makes sense in terms of the length of time it takes for tumours to develop — and it is localised to the side of the head where the handset is held."

A spokesman for the Mobile Operators Association said: "The overall results of this study do not show increased brain tumour risk in relation to mobile phone use.

"The findings related to tumour location are difficult to interpret."

(Source)

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Mobile phone use and cancer linked

By Nic Fleming, Telegraph
August 31, 2007

Fresh fears over the health hazards linked to using mobile phones have been raised after scientists found that handset radiation could trigger cell division.

A study found that exposure to mobile phone signals for just five minutes stimulated human cells to split in two - a process that occurs naturally when tissue grows or rejuvenates, but that is also central to the development of cancer.

Previous research on the safety of mobile use has led to conflicting conclusions, with some suggesting links with tumours in the nervous system and others finding no risks.

The six-year Mobile Telecommunications and Health Research Programme, which provided £8.4 million of Government and industry funding for 25 studies, is expected to present its final report next month.

Official guidance that mobile phones were safe was based on the mainstream scientific assumption that electromagnetic radiation from such devices could damage cells and tissue only by heating them.

But the new research, reported in this week's New Scientist, supports the position of those researchers who argue that handsets can trigger potentially harmful changes to cells irrespective of temperature changes.

Prof Rony Seger, a cancer researcher at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel, and colleagues exposed rat and human cells to electromagnetic radiation at a similar frequency to that emitted by mobiles but at only about one tenth of the power.

After just five minutes the researchers identified the production of extracellular signal-regulated kinases (ERK1/2) - natural chemicals that stimulate cell division and growth.

Cancers develop when the body is unable to prevent excessive growth and division of cells in the wrong place.

Prof Seger said yesterday: "The real significance of our findings is that cells are not inert to non-thermal mobile phone radiation.

"We used radiation power levels that were around one tenth of those produced by a normal mobile. The changes we observed were clearly not caused by heating."

The UK has adopted international safety standards for electromagnetic radiation. These state that the amount of energy absorbed from an electric field or radio wave cannot exceed two watts per kilogram (W/kg) when averaged over 10 grams of tissue. Almost all mobile phones emit less that than one W/kg.

Graham Philips, of Powerwatch, a lobby group that campaigns on mobile phones, masts and powerlines, said: "Current safety guidelines assume health effects from mobiles can occur only when significant heating of body tissue occurs.

"This study shows biological changes in response to low-level mobile phone radiation - something that could have implications for health. Further research is required. However, guidance based purely on thermal effects is clearly out of date."

Other scientists pointed out that cell division occurred naturally as tissue grew or rejuvenated within the body, and that the preliminary study did not prove any health effects.

Simon Cook, a biochemist at the Babraham Institute near Cambridge, said: "The reason people are intrigued is that this pathway is frequently activated in cancer.

"The research is certainly interesting. However, they saw a very transient activation of this pathway, which we know is not sufficient to promote cell division.

"In cancer you see a much stronger, persistent and sustained activation and even this is just one of many changes required for cancer development."

Simon Arthur, from the University of Dundee, said: "The ERK1/2 pathway can be turned on by a huge variety of different things such as natural compounds produced by the body that regulate cell growth, and various forms of environmental and chemical stress.

"The research shows the effect on cells in culture in tightly-controlled laboratory conditions. In a living person there are lots of different processes occurring at the same time, so we do not know whether the signal from radio waves would produce a similar measureable effect."

The health debate

May 2000: Parents left confused after an official report, chaired by Sir William Stewart, then chairman of the National Radiological Protection Board (NRPB), concluded that there were no proven health risks associated with mobile phones but that children should minimise their use as a precaution.

Feb 2001: The Mobile Telecommunications and Health Research Programme (MTHR) set up to encourage further research into potential health hazards of handsets and masts.

May 2001: Research in America suggested children's brains absorbed 50-70 per cent more radiation from handsets than adults because their skulls were smaller.

Oct 2004: Swedish research concluded that those who used mobiles for 10 years were almost twice as likely to develop an acoustic neuroma - a tumour on a nerve connecting the ear to the brain.

Jan 2005: Chairman of the Health Protection Agency advised parents not to allow children under nine to use mobiles because of potential but unproven risks.

Dec 2006: A Danish study of people with brain tumours concluded there were no increased risks for heavy users.

Jan 2007: A study in Finland of people with nervous system tumours called gliomas found no link with mobile use until it separated out long-term, regular users. It was concluded that they were 39 per cent more likely to get a glioma on the side of their head where they held their handset.

Sept 2007: MTHR expected to present final report, including results of several unpublished studies. Prof Lawrie Challis, the chairman, expected to say there are no proven risks from short-term use, but to announce large-scale monitoring of health of handset users over 10 years.

(Source)

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'Can you hear me now?'

Enjoy your (impending) visits to the oncology clinic, lemmings :-P

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