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Prolonged Cell Phone Usage Causes
Brain Tumors, Study Shows
People who have used cell phones for at least 10 years might have an increased risk of developing a rare brain tumor, according to a study published Wednesday in the international journal Epidemiology.
A team of researchers at Institute of Environmental Medicine at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, found almost a fourfold increase of the tumors, known as acoustic neuromas, on the side of the head where the phone was most often held.
The work was done as part of the World Health Organization's cell phone research agenda, and experts in the field said it must be taken seriously and is likely to rekindle consumer worries about the risks of using the phones.
"The Karolinska researchers are respected around the world, and this study will force health agencies to take a fresh look at mobile phone risks," said Louis Slesin, publisher of Microwave News, who has been covering the industry since its early days.
At least one past study conducted for the cell phone industry also had suggested a link between the phones and this type of tumor.
But cell phone industry officials on Wednesday said the Swedish research is only one study and that no conclusions can be drawn from it.
Most of those studies had fewer long-term users than the Karolinska study.
When a cell phone is in use, it emits radio-frequency radiation, some of which is absorbed in areas of the head closest to the handset.
Ahlbom said in a phone interview that the data are strong and statistically significant, but the findings must be confirmed by follow-up studies.
Lai's own research found DNA breaks in the brain cells of animals exposed to radio-frequency radiation, results that were first published in 1994, and have been repeated by others, he said.
According to the Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association's Web site, updated daily, there are more than 170 million wireless subscribers in the United States.