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No Link Found Between Mobiles and Tumours

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Large study fails to find a link between tumour development and mobile phone use

Non-cancerous tumours do not appear to be linked to mobile phone use, says a study of nearly three million people.

Reuters reports that data on more than 2.8m Danish adults showed those who used a mobile for 11-15 years were no more likely than newer users or non-users to develop a particular tumour called an acoustic neuroma.

These tumours are considered important in this type of research because they grow on the main nerve between the inner ear and brain, near to where users hold their phones.

But of the 800 diagnosed with acoustic neuromas between 1998 and 2006, those who had used mobiles for at least 11 years were at no greater risk.

Still more work needed

The study by the World Health Organisation’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) was led by Dr Joachim Schuz.

In an email to Reuters he said long-term users also did not have larger than expected tumours and there was no evidence of a tendency for them to develop on the right side where most people hold their phone.

He also pointed out that despite the size of the study, more evidence and time was need to determine any absence or otherwise of a mobile-phone related cancer risk.

“As most cellphone users started their use only from the early 1990s onwards,” he told Reuters, “we have only up to 15 years of observation time of larger numbers of users — which is perhaps too short to see an effect, if there is any.”

Swirling debate

There is swirling debate over the safety of mobile phones, with no definitive evidence or data yet being available and still a relatively short period to study.

Some studies have suggested a link with cancerous glioma tumours but most do not.

In May the IARC itself classified the radiofrequency waves emitted from mobile phones as “possibly carcinogenic”, but conceded it still had limited evidence of a link with glioma or acoustic neuroma.

The study based on the Danish data was considered during this review.

A committee of experts from Britain, the United States and Sweden recently concluded there was no convincing evidence of a connection between cancer and mobile phone usage.

Reuters reports Dr Schuz noted that while more people are using phones for longer, the average output power appears to have gone down over time.

Campaigners have recently also began asserting that smart grids, the proposed network of meters in people’s homes, carry a cancer risk.