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No, Cell Phones Don't Cause Brain Cancer

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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.

"There had been so many questions raised about the ... research we had sponsored," even though the studies' results were not influenced by the cell phone industry, says Jo-Anne Basile, CTIA vice president for external and industry relations. "We decided to go to where those questions wouldn't be raised -- and that is the FDA."

In addition to the CTIA-funded research, other large studies addressing the question of cell phone safety should be published soon, Basile says. The U.S. National Cancer Institute recently completed a large population study on the subject, and several large trials are being conducted in Europe.

"This study finds that cell phones are unrelated to the risk of brain cancer," she says, "and, along with others now in the pipeline, will contribute to an overall understanding of this issue."

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