A new study says that radio frequency exposure from cell phones is not linked to brain cancer.
Using data from the U.K.'s Office of National Statistics, researchers from the University of Manchester looked at the trends in rates of newly diagnosed brain cancers from 1998-2007. The researchers said they needed a five to 10 year period to see the effects of exposure to cell phone radiation. The study found no major significant change in the incidence of brain cancers in men or women during the nine-year span.
If it was a population-wide problem, it would have shown up by now, said Dr. Frank de Vocht, who led the research. Dr. de Vocht is an expert in occupational and environmental health in the University of Manchester's School of Community-Based Medicine. What we argue is that it's very unlikely that the electromagnetic radiation itself is a carcinogen.
Dr. de Vocht said the studied derived from the ongoing discussion on whether radio frequency exposure from cell phones increases the risk of brain cancer. While there were minor increases in the data that could have been caused by exposure to electromagnetic radiation, Dr. de Vocht said it only equated to less than one additional case per 1,000.
We argue because it's so small, it's likely not because of cell phones, unless it's because the person was a highly exposed individual, Dr. de Vocht said.
Dr. de Vocht and his team also looked at individuals who would be typically at high-risk for brain cancer during this time period, to see if they were affected. Again, the results showed a minimal increase at most.
The team started their study with 1998 because it was when cell phones first became a mainstream communicative device. From 1990 to 2002, cell phone usage in the UK increased from zero to 65 percent of households.
Dr. de Vocht says the study only focused on the overall population and not varying sub-sects or people with high exposure. When you look at our study, there is nothing at the overall population level but that doesn't mean there isn't something in specific sub groups, or over exposed people, Dr. de Vocht said.
Links between cell phone use and cancer have prompted the city of San Francisco to require that manufacturers display the levels of radiation exposure on different brands of phone in retail outlets. The National Cancer Institute says that while there is no increased incidence of the two most common types of brain tumors.
The study will be published in the journal Bioelectromagnetics.
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