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.