Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Effects of long-term cell phone use: the debate continues

The highest-quality research data available suggests that long-term exposure to microwaves from cellular phones may lead to an increased risk of brain tumors, reports a paper in the November/December issue of Journal of Computer Assisted Tomography. Although debate continues, independent studies with long-term follow-up strongly suggest an increased risk of brain tumors related to the use of cellular or cordless phones. "We conclude that the current standard of exposure to microwave during mobile phone use is not safe for long-term exposure and needs to be revised," conclude the study authors.

There is increasing public concern about the potential cancer risks from microwave emissions related to wireless phones -- not only cellular phones and base stations (transmission tower antennae), but also home cordless phones. Some studies have reported that long-term wireless phone users have increased rates of brain tumors, including malignant gliomas and benign acoustic neuromas. However, other studies have found no association. To gain insight into the controversy, researchers analyzed studies that included more patients who had used a cell phone for ten years or longer and were performed without financial support from the wireless industry. The findings suggested that the more hours of cellular phone use over time, the higher the risk of developing brain tumors. Risk also increased along with the level of power from the wireless device, years since first use, total exposure, and younger age when starting wireless phone use. Based on an analysis of pooled data from different studies, researchers write, "[L]ong-term cell phone usage can approximately double the risk of developing a glioma or acoustic neuroma in the more exposed brain hemisphere" -- that is, on the side where the user typically holds the phone to the ear. That conclusion is consistent even with data on the long-term cell phone users from the Interphone studies.

The researchers suggested some steps that cell phone users can take to reduce exposure. These include limiting the number and length of calls, restricting children's cell phone use, communicating by text instead of voice, and wearing an "air tube" headset (not a regular wired headset) rather than holding the phone to the ear. The researchers also urge adoption of newer phones and other technologies to reduce exposure, and call for government action to revise standards for microwave exposure.

1 comment:

mm said...

Much of the focus on cell phone effects has been on brain tumors, which are definitely a big concern. However, there are also many other bioeffects linked to exposure to radiofrequency/microwave radiation from these devices, as well as from cell towers, Wi-Fi, cordless phones, etc. Seen in the research have been effects on sleep, brainwaves, short-term memory, fertility, immunity and attention; headaches, other face and neck pain, ear ringing, increased allergies, etc. It sounds incredible and so very broad, but one needs to consider that studies on animal and human tissue show that this radiation, even at very low levels, affects the cell membrane and consequently how the cell functions and interfaces with other cells. Even when we are not aware of it, studies on heat shock proteins indicate that our cells are being stressed by these exposures. When you consider that our invisible ambient electromagnetic environment has been changed dramatically over the past century, and especially the past two decades, when compared to that in which all present species evolved, it gives pause. According to measurements taken in various places, levels of radiofrequency radiation in the air have increased between 100 million to 100 billion times over naturally occurring levels. Given that our biology operates through subtle electrical and chemical signals, it is not surprising that our bodies would react to these external, very weak signals, as well.

For more information on decades of research, see an independent review of the science that shook up European governments' awareness when it came out in 2007, but was not even mentioned in US news: The Bioinitiative Report ( For $2 you can enter the site and download as many of the titled chapters as you like from this 600 page report reviewing over 2000 studies. Other good sites: for recorded interviews with scientists, and for up-to-date information and videos on last Sept.'s Senate Hearing and an international science conference on wireless and health held in Washington at that time. Louis Slesin's site,, will give you background on the science and the politics surrounding it.