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Cancer Health Center

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Are Cell Phones Safe? Questions & Answers

University of Pittsburgh Cancer Expert Urges Limited Use; Get Answers to Questions About Cell Phone Safety

What does the American Academy of Pediatrics say? continued...

The American Academy of Pediatrics doesn't have an official stance on kids' cell phone use, Fisher tells WebMD.

"There is no established cancer risk in children from cell phones, nor in adults," Fisher says. He notes that researchers from the largest study, which is ongoing in Scandinavia and other parts of Europe, and includes children as well as adults, "all agree there is really no compelling evidence there whatsoever that cell phones are associated with brain tumors or other tumors in children."

"We're not seeing any increased risk, not seeing any association; we're not seeing any new tumors; we're not seeing any changes in tumor patterns" in the research, Fisher says.

As for concerns about salivary gland tumors or behavioral problems in kids whose moms used cell phones during pregnancy, Fisher says, "these are all small studies here and there and there's really nothing to indicate a health risk."

"As scientists, we certainly keep our minds and eyes open," Fisher says. "But there's just nothing out there, and parents should be reassured that there is no established risk, and they should feel good about the choices they make for their children."

Should parents limit kids' cell phone use?

Fisher, who spoke to WebMD via cell phone, says he sees good reason to limit kids' cell phone use -- just not out of cancer fears.

"I restrict my own kids' use of cell phones. We don't sit in bed and talk on our cell phones at night, and we don't get to use them when we're 5 years old. But that's more about good parenting and parental choice than about science," Fisher says.

"Common sense should prevail," he says, noting that kids can get distracted by cell phones. "I don't think kids should be given unrestrained access 24-7 to cell phones. It should be limited. But it shouldn't be done because of paranoia or fear of perceived risks that aren't established."

Setting limits "out of your own philosophy and life choices, that's very different than doing it out paranoia. That's why I'm disappointed by the statement from the folks in Pittsburgh ... it's not an appeal to healthy living and happy development for children, it's an appeal to people's paranoia about modern living."

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