Scientists have still not been able to say whether or not cell phone use increases the chances of developing <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/practice_areas/diseases">cancer or health problems. The uncertainty over the health effects of cell phone use has created a great deal of controversy, and has left both consumers and medical professionals confused over the possible hazards of these now ubiquitous devices.
Earlier this year, an Australian neurosurgeon published a paper on the Internet saying cell phone use “has far broader public health ramifications than asbestos and smoking.” The doctor, Vini Khurana, analyzed data from more than 100 studies, and concluded that most weren’t long enough to uncover a risk of brain cancer and that children haven’t been adequately studied
Many health officials took Dr. Khurana to task for his alarming stance, but he is not alone in his concerns. In January, the National Academy of Sciences released a report calling for more research on cell phones and health risks. The authors concluded that many of the past studies were not conducted over a long-enough period of time to assess the risk of brain cancer.
A few small studies have indicated a link between cell phones and some types of tumors. For instance, earlier this year, a study conducted by researchers at Tel Aviv University found a link between prolonged cell phone use and cancer. According to the study, people who use cell phones for lengthy periods of time every day were 50 percent more likely to develop both benign or malignant tumors in their parotid gland, the main saliva-producing gland that is located between the jaw and ear.
But two studies conducted by the National Cancer Institute have found conflicting results. According to a recent article in the LA Times, several studies coordinated through the International Agency for Research on Cancer, called the Interphone studies, have failed to show an association between cell phones and cancer. Numerous laboratory studies on animals have also found no evidence that DNA is damaged by low levels of radio frequency.
The high volume of people who regularly use cell phones, together with a few studies, like the one done in Tel Aviv, that have found a potential link between brain cancer and cell phones, indicates a need for further research. Few studies have also been conducted on the effects of cell phone use in children. So far, the focus of much cell phone research has been on brain tumors, and other health outcomes – such as behavioral problems and central nervous system damage – has been ignored.
One recent study did suggest that the children of mothers who use cell phones while pregnant are more likely to develop behavioral problems. The study, conducted by University of California in Los Angeles (UCLA) and the University of Aarhus in Denmark, looked at more than 13,000 children in Denmark born at the end of the 1990s. The research indicated that pregnant women who did use cell phones were 54 percent more likely to have children with behavioral problems. If the children later used cell phones themselves, the figure rose to 89 percent.
These conflicting studies mean the cell phone – health effects controversy won’t be going away anytime soon. Many experts have suggested that cell phone users – especially those who rely heavily on the devices – use hands free technology to try to limit whatever health risks they may pose.