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Scientist Urges More Study Into Cellphone-Cancer Link
Scientists on Thursday warned U.S. legislators of the risks of brain cancer from cellphone use, highlighting the potential risk for children who use mobile phones.
"We urgently need more research," said David Carpenter, director of the Institute of Health and Environment at the University of Albany, in testimony before the House Subcommittee on Domestic Policy. "We must not repeat the situation we had with the relationship between smoking and lung cancer."
Ronald Herberman, director of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, said that most studies "claiming that there is no link between cellphones and brain tumors are outdated, had methodological concerns and did not include sufficient numbers of long-term cellphone users."
Many studies denying a link "defined regular cellphones as 'once a week,' " added Herberman.
"I cannot tell this committee that cellphones are definitely dangerous. But, I certainly cannot tell you that they are safe," he said.
Carpenter and Herberman both told the committee the brain cancer risk from cellphone use is far greater for children than for adults.
Herberman held up a model for lawmakers showing how radiation from a cellphone penetrates far deeper into the brain of a five-year-old than that of an adult.
"Every child is using cellphones all of the time, and there are three billion cellphone users in the world," said Herberman.
He added that, like the messages that warn of health risks on cigarette packs, cellphones "need a precautionary message."
Noting that numerous U.S. studies have not found a definitive cancer-phone link, Carpenter asked: "Are we at the same place we were with smoking and lung cancer 30 years ago?"
The committee were shown several European studies, particularly surveys from Scandinavia - where the cellphone was first developed - which show that the radiation emitted by cellphones have definite biological consequences.
For example, a 2008 study by Swedish cancer specialist Lennart Hardell found that frequent cellphone users are twice as likely to develop a benign tumor on the auditory nerves of the ear most used with the handset, compared to the other ear.
In addition, a paper published this month by the Royal Society in London found that adolescents who start using cellphones before the age of 20 were five times more likely to develop brain cancer at the age of 29 than those who didn’t use a cellphone.