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Study: Cell Phones Don't Raise Brain Cancer Risk in Kids

Researchers See No Risk of Brain Cancer From Regular Use of Mobile Phones by Children and Teens

Risk and Reassurance

"It's reassuring," says Robert Tarone, PhD, biostatistics director of the International Epidemiology Institute in Rockville, Md., and professor of medicine at Vanderbilt University in Nashville.

He co-authored an editorial to accompany the study.

He notes that more than 91% of the U.S. population now subscribe to cell phone service. More than 5 billion people do globally.

"If cell phones cause brain cancer, we are going to see it in the rates," he tells WebMD. "We haven't seen it yet."

However, he says, some experts bring up the question of latency -- the time between exposure and a cancer diagnosis.

For that reason, he says, he agrees with the Swiss researchers that the rates of brain cancer in the population should continue to be monitored. However, he says, the kind of ''look-back'' studies done by Roosli are not proving useful.

A better approach, he says, is to monitor phone users over time, going forward.

Tarone points to other recent studies, largely reassuring that cell phones are not linked with cancer risk.

In his editorial, he talks about an agency of the World Health Organization recently announcing that cell phones may be ''possibly carcinogenic."  The change, he says, is based on what the agency calls ''limited evidence" of a cancer link. The conclusion, Tarone says, reflects the fact that there is very little scientific evidence about cell phones and cancer. It's not a call to abandon cell phones, he says.

On its web site, the World Health Organization says that an increased risk of brain tumors with cell phone use is not established. However, it says more research is needed.

For parents and others still wary, Tarone says, ''there are ways to use cell phones so you don't get it near your head. It's the antenna that has the energy."

Measures such as speaker phones and hands-free devices reduce the radio-frequency energy exposure.

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