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No, Cell Phones Don't Cause Brain Cancer

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"It is still an open question whether there are health risks associated with cell phone use for 10, 20, or even 40 years," Graham tells WebMD. "But given all the health concerns that families have today, I would say that I don't think use of cell phones ranks particularly high on the list."

In this study, Muscat and his colleagues examined cell phone usage among 469 men and women diagnosed with brain cancer and 422 people without brain cancer. All participants were interviewed between 1994 and 1998 and were questioned about whether they used cell phones at all, the type of phone used, amount of usage per month, year of first use, and total years of cell phone usage.

The researchers found no difference in usage patterns between the brain cancer patients and those without brain cancer.

Most of the people included in the study used analog cellular phones, and it has been suggested that the radiofrequency fields emitted from digital cellular phones could carry different risks. Several European studies currently are examining digital phone safety, but Muscat says it is unlikely that they will prove to be any less safe than analog phones.

"I don't believe these studies will find a difference in risk, because the power output from both analog and digital phones is very low, and there is a margin of safety built into them," Muscat says.

This American Health Foundation investigation was one of several cell phone safety studies funded by the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association (CTIA), an international trade association for the wireless industry. As of last year, the industry had spent approximately $25 million over a five-year period investigating health issues related to cell phone use, but had produced little substantive research.

Last June, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration agreed to guide and review future industry-sponsored safety studies, entering into a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement with CTIA. FDA spokesmen said the agency was getting involved, in part, because the available scientific data on cell phone safety were inadequate.

While CTIA will continue to pay for ongoing and future research into cell phone safety, the FDA will help guide and oversee the research.

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