Do cell phones cause brain cancer?
Jury still out on this question. So far, studies show no relationship after about 10 years of use – see Danish study (conducted by Johansen et al.) linking data on all of the 420,095 cell phone users in Denmark between 1982 and 1995 to the Danish Cancer Registry.
Muriella’s Corner has been tracking this issue for a while now see below
On the Larry King show, 27 May 2008 this issue came up again. The discussion centred on seeking more info on the relationship between cell phones and brain cancer. Mrs D. Cochran, wife of the late Johnny Cochran, Esq. and Dr Keith Black, Neurosurgeon and Mr Cochran’s medical doctor, led the discussion as to whether Mr Cochran’s death could be attributed to heavy use of cell phones which might have led to brain cancer. Read info here
Other neurosurgeons joined in the discussion, notably Dr Sanjay Gupta and Dr Vini Khurana, the latter being the only one among them who tenaciously held the view that he believed that there was a link and who pointed to recent data coming in from the Interphone Study Group established through the World Health Organizaton (WHO)
INTERPHONE Study Results update – 7 February 2008
The INTERPHONE Study is a series of multinational case–control studies set-up to determine
whether mobile telephone use increases the risk of cancer and, specifically, whether the radiofrequency radiation (non-ionizing) emitted by mobile telephones is carcinogenic, is nearing completion.
Details of the study protocol and procedures have been published for acoustic neurinoma, glioma, meningioma and tumours of the parotid gland. The studies used a common core protocol and were carried out in Australia, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden and the UK. Read more here
What should be noted from the King discussion are the following:
- Cell phone users should be aware that there are procedures to follow and should read the instructions coming with the phone (distance recommended between phone and ear, use of case, care in placing phone near body without being in a case…
- More use should be made of ear devices – headset, earpiece, speaker on phone, blue tooth even though the latter might be a potential issue as it is plugged into the ear and might emit low-dose radiation
- Cell phone only users should reconsider returning to having landlines, as the tendency to eliminate landlines and increase cell phone use as the only communication tool should be revisited, given that landlines might provide some respite to users as regards exposure to non-ionizing radiation
- Reduce/eliminate cell phone use among young children as their developing brain might be more susceptible to cancer causing radiation given that brain tumour/cancer is now being identified as the number one killer in young children
What also came out of the discussion is that we should not believe that brain cancers might be attributable to cell phone use only. As was pointed out, farmers might be affected due to heavy diesel exposure, air pollution is being identified strongly with an increase in brain tumors.
Cell phone technology is also evolving thus leading to reduction in the levels of non-ionizing radiation. However, given the popularity of cell phones, there has been dramatic increase in usage around the world.
In 2004, there were over 1.7 billion cell phones in use worldwide (Source – CIA /facts and figures). That figure has grown exponentially by now. Of these phones, more than 60 percent are in developing countries. For example, if you examine the explosive growth in one region, Africa – in 2000 there were about 500,000 phones including land lines; today there are over 30 million with many of them wireless cell phones.
Evolution of utilization of the cell phone
This developing country market might not be cognizant of the health discussions going on in the developed world, and as such they might just become victims of any long-term health consequences, as for them, the cell phone is not only a communication tool but could be their livelihood as well.
Creativity has surrounded cell phone usage and the demand has affected supply. Cell phones are used in economic dealings, for communication and connection with loved ones and friend. Cell phones open up a sea of possibilities for the delivery of information, from sources not yet thought of and thus not not yet available; they are specifically establishing a sense of empowerment among people living in developing countries, by assisting them to leap frog into the internet without having a computer by using the cell phone for business, communicating, and texting/SMS.
For example, Grameen Bank, through Grameen Telecom whose goal is to provide telecommunication services to the 100 million rural inhabitants in the 68,000 villages in Bangladesh, provides cell phones mostly to women who use them as a means of livelihood. In Africa, cell phones are used to spread messages about health and disease, as well as to connect women traders to users of their products and for telephone banking and leasing of phones to clients/customers in the street to make calls.
Muriella’s Corner hopes that the Interphone Study Group has developed or will develop a protocol to examine this evolution and heavy-duty utilization of the cell phone in developing countries.