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Cell-Phone Link Found, But...
There is no evidence linking mobile phones to cancer or other health problems, but more research needs to be done to be sure, a panel of experts said today.
The scientists, who are advising the British government, said existing research into the health effects of cell phones "does not give cause for concern" that the devices cause cancer "nor any other adverse health effect."
But the panel added that knowledge about the effects of exposure to radio waves emitted by the phones "has limitations, and mobile phones have only been in widespread use for a relatively short time."
The findings of the panel, chaired by epidemiologist Anthony Swerdlow, broadly agree with those of an earlier advisory group's report in 2000.
That group said there was no clear evidence that mobile phones were harmful to health, but cautioned there could be as-yet unknown biological effects of exposure to the phones' low levels of radiation. It advised children, who could be more vulnerable to any potential harm, to limit their use of mobile phones.
The Swerdlow panel said there had been no new substantial studies on the effects of childhood exposure to cell phones since the 2000 report.
The panel encouraged "better studies, rather than simply more" into the effects of cell phone use, and encouraged research over longer time periods than has been the case until now.
Swerdlow said several large studies currently under way -- including one by the United Nations' International Agency for Research on Cancer involving 6,500 brain tumor cases from 13 countries -- would help make the picture clearer. The U.S. Food & Drug Administration also supports additional research.
A federal appeals court in the United States last fall upheld the dismissal of an $800 million lawsuit filed by a Maryland doctor who said his cell phone use caused his brain tumor.
That case had been supported by the work of a Swedish oncologist, Dr. Lennart Hardell, who said his research showed that long-term cell phone use carried a higher risk for general development of tumors. But the district court judge questioned Hardell's methodology and cited studies that rejected the findings.
The Mobile Operators Association, a trade group representing the cell phone industry in Britain, welcomed the findings of the new report and said it encouraged further studies.
"The industry is committed to addressing public concerns about mobile telephony in an open and transparent way," said executive director Mike Dolan.