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Brain Tumor Foundation Urges Public To Follow Cell Phone Guidelines
National Brain Tumor Foundation
July 18, 2000

While the news about cell phones continues to be confusing, new guidelines issued by the World Health Organization (WHO) may help to give the public some suggestions about how to reduce any potential risk.

In response to growing public concern about the effects of cell phones, the WHO is overseeing a multinational research project to further investigate the connection between cell phones and brain cancer. Until the results of that project are completed, the WHO suggests that cell phone users limit their time on a cell phone.

The National Brain Tumor Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to raising funds for research and providing patient support, joins a growing number of people and organizations concerned about the effects of cell phone use.

For example, State Senator Tom Hayden (D-Los Angeles) of California recently introduced a bill that would investigate more closely the potential health risks associated with cell phones. And each month, the National Brain Tumor Foundation, receives calls from patients and family members concerned about the risk of cell phones.

"We still don't know what causes brain tumors," says Roberta McKean-Cowdin, Ph.D., Post Doctoral Fellow at the Department of Preventive Medicine at the University of Southern California, who spoke at the 6th National Brain Tumor Conference last March. "But we do know brain tumors are on the rise in children, and they peak in young children from birth to age ten, decline between the ages of 10-25, and increase linearly to age 65," says Dr. McKean-Cowdin. "While we can't always pinpoint the cause of a brain tumor, we do know a little about risk factors."

Risk factors include heavy exposure to ionizing radiation, such as X-rays, electromagnetic fields, pesticides, and a family history of brain tumors. In animal studies, nitrite compounds found in cured meats caused tumors. A few studies found that radio frequencies, such as the type found in cell phones, increase the division of already damaged cells.

The National Brain Tumor Foundation views the WHO guidelines as a simple and easy way to protect the public from any potential risk. "Clearly the World Health Organization would not be conducting a multinational research project about cell phones and brain tumors if there were not some convincing evidence," says Robert Tufel, MSW, MPH, Director of Patient Services at the National Brain Tumor Foundation. "What we do know is that brain tumor incidence is on the rise and some of the research about cell phones and brain tumors has given us cause for concern. Until we can conclude that there is no risk from cell phone use, we encourage the public to follow the WHO guidelines."

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