Mobile Phone Radiation To Unleash
Epidemic Of Brain Tumors
Journalist: David Gutierrez
August 20, 2008
A new review of more than 100
studies on the safety of mobile phones has concluded that cellular
devices are poised to cause an epidemic of brain tumors that will kill
more people than smoking or asbestos.
The review was conducted
by neurosurgeon Vini Khurana, who has received more than 14 awards in
the past 16 years, who made headlines worldwide with his warnings. He
called upon the industry to immediately work to reduce people's
exposure to the radiation from mobile phones.
Khurana, research demonstrates that long-term use of mobile handsets,
more than 10 years, can double the risk of contracting brain cancer.
While a number of studies have concluded that there is no such risk,
Khurana said that most of those studies only examined short-term use.
But because a brain tumor can take 10 years to develop, studies without
a long follow-up period are largely meaningless.
"There is a significant and increasing body of evidence for a link between mobile phone usage and certain brain tumors," Khurana said, a link that will be "definitively proven" within 10 years.
Khurana urged people to minimize their use of mobile phones, particularly handsets. He also urged the industry to act immediately to reduce exposure to radiation from the devices.
While mobile phones may save lives in certain emergency situations, Khurana said, brain cancer is "a life-ending diagnosis."
"It is anticipated that this danger has far broader public health ramifications than asbestos and smoking," Khurana said. While one billion people worldwide smoke tobacco, three times as many now use mobile phones.
Smoking is responsible for five million deaths each year.
While the United Kingdom's Independent
newspaper described Khurana's study as "the most devastating indictment
yet published of the health risks" of mobile phones, his warning is not
the first. A Swedish study in 2006 concluded that people who used
mobile phones for an hour or more each day had a 240 percent higher
brain tumor risk than non-users. Tumors were significantly more likely
to develop on the side of the head where the phone was most often used.
in part by such studies, France has warned against mobile phone use
(especially in children), Germany urges people to minimize their use of
mobile handsets, and the European Environment Agency has called for
minimizing exposure to cellular radiation.
The mechanisms by
which mobile phones increase cancer risk are not well understood, but
several possibilities are suspected. Electromagnetic radiation (EMR) is
known to directly heat up the head and brain, and can also cause
thermoelectric effects on cells and DNA.
According to Khurana, even bluetooth devices and unshielded headsets
merely turn the head into an antenna that bombards itself with
radiation. Children, with thinner skulls than adults, are particularly
"EMR rays in general cause irritation, concentration
lapses and in many cases even proliferation of cells which cause
cancer," said Dr Rajeev Ranjan, a New Delhi neurologist. Radiation can
also interfere with the functioning of medical devices like pacemakers.
EMR also "affect[s] the DNA and cause[s] problems in cell recovery and cell growth," said New Delhi neurologist Anshu Rohatgi.
warned that if immediate measures are not taken, mobile phones will
soon be responsible for a massive public health crisis.
"We are currently experiencing a reactively unchecked and dangerous situation," he said.
mobile phone use began in the mid-1980s and it can take up to 20 years
to diagnose a malignant solid brain tumor, he said, "In the years
2008-2012, we will have reached the appropriate length of follow-up
time to begin to definitively observe the impact of this global
technology on brain tumor incidence rates."
tumor incidence and its associated death rate will be observed globally
to rise within a decade from now," Khurana said, "by which time it may
be far too late to meaningfully intervene."