Senators Want Research on Cell Phones, Cancer
Lawmakers Seek Answers to Possible Health Hazards for Cell Phone Users
WebMD News Archive
Sept. 15, 2009 -- Lawmakers say they will seek more federally funded
research into the possible connection between cell phone use and cancer.
The announcement comes several days after a review released by the
Environmental Working Group found potential safety hazards connected to cell
"It is something that is worth taking a look at," says Sen. Arlen Specter,
D-Pa., a member of the Senate health appropriations subcommittee.
At issue is the radio-frequency radiation that cell phones use to
communicate with towers. The radiation causes heat energy and may also be able
to induce cancers in animals at high doses.
Most available studies have been performed in animals. Human studies are
relatively few and tend to be small in size, making them less reliable. Most of
those studies come from Europe and Israel, where cell phones have been in wide
use longer than in the U.S.
"Many other countries are doing studies involving humans," says Sen. Tom
Harkin, D-Iowa, the subcommittee's chairman.
Several studies have found an association between long-term cell phone use
and malignancies. Meanwhile, other studies have found no connection.
Cell Phone Radiation
In humans, the issue remains clouded by several factors. Few people have the
kind of persistent, decade-long exposure to cell phones held close to the ear
that researchers suspect may carry a risk for disease. Phones can vary widely
in how much energy they emit. And geography may play a role, since poor tower
signals cause cell phones to emit more energy as they search for a
Cell phone manufacturers have maintained that the available science shows no
proof that long periods of exposure to cell phone radiation lead to cancer.
"The current evidence does not demonstrate that phones cause cancer or other
adverse health effects," says Linda S. Erdreich, PhD, a researcher with
Exponent, a consulting firm that performs research on behalf of cell phone
Other researchers agreed that studies are inconclusive. But most urge
caution, warning that even tiny increases in cancer risk would have major
public health implications given the millions of cell phone users.