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Analog Cell Phones May Cause Tumors

Study Fuels Debate Over Dangers of Cell Phones


In the last month, a study from Australia looked at mice genetically engineered to be prone to developing a type of cancer called lymphoma. In that study, published in the journal Radiation, mice were exposed up to two years to microwave radio frequencies similar to those from a cellular phone. "They were not able find genetic damage," says Boice. "But this study, like the earlier studies, needs to be replicated. You haven't shown anything until you can replicate it."

That's the problem with studies that have found links with brain cancer -- researchers haven't been able to replicate the findings, he says.

Not everyone is convinced that cell phones are benign.

"Clearly, there is something to [the Swedish study], says Louis Slesin, editor of Microwave News. "What I find intriguing is that some of the risks go up with number of years of use. That tells you there is something to look at. After 10 years, the risk goes up from 30% to 80%, and that is certainly significant."

Slesin admits that cell phone radio waves are too weak to cause DNA damage. "No one argues that. But what is being suggested -- which is as important -- is that it modulates the repair of DNA as well as the break. It can cause breaks and it can hinder repairs. It's not black and white. It's not that simple."

"I don't want to discount the need for research. It's something we should be evaluating," Boice says. "There is a public concern, and we're going to look at it as carefully as possible. This is not the end. But when you take the totality of scientific evidence today, it's such that cellular telephones are not the cause of cancer."

"You can't look at one study and draw any conclusions," says Jo-Ann Basile, spokeswoman for the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association. "Public health officials look at all the science when they make their assessments. And the judgment of public health agencies and scientific bodies around the world -- as they look at science to date -- is that there are no adverse health effects from cell phones."

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