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Cell Phone/Brain Tumor Connection Unclear
Journalist: Sherman Fridman
April 03, 2000

Acquisitions and denials about whether radio-wave emissions from cell phones causes or increases the possibility of brain tumors has raged since the first time a telephone call was made from a wireless handset. Studies have only added to the confusion, with some of them suggesting a correlation between cell phone emissions and a higher incidence of human brain tumors, while other studies debunked those findings.

According to the National Brain Tumor Foundation, a not-for-profit organization providing support, education, and advocacy for brain tumor patients and their families, what is certain is that there is a boom in the number of people using cell phones, as well as an increase in brain tumor incidence. The question is: are these two facts related?

"We still don't know what causes brain tumors," says Roberta McKean- Cowdin, Ph.D., a Post Doctoral Fellow at the University of Southern California's Department of Preventive Medicine.

However, in an interview with Newsbytes, Janis Brewer, the executive director of NBTF, acknowledged that although there is not enough information to raise a "red flag" about cell phones and brain tumors, there is certainly enough information to raise a "pink flag" and to look more closely at the issue.

Dr. McKean-Cowdin says, "We 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 to 25, and increase linearly to age 65." And, although Dr. McKean-Cowdin says that the cause of brain tumors is still unknown, researchers do know a little about the risk factors for brain tumors.

These risk factors, according to McKean-Cowdin, include heavy exposure to ionizing radiation, such as x-rays and electromagnetic fields, and a family history of brain tumors.

Dr. McKean-Cowdin acknowledges a few studies have found that radio frequencies, such as the type found in cell phones, increase the division of already damaged cells. Nevertheless, she cautions that this may depend on how much exposure to radio frequencies a person has had.

However, in an exclusive to Newsbytes, Brewer said that she has been advised that although some studies showing a correlation between cell phone usage and skull-related cancers have been suppressed in the past, one or two wireless telephone manufacturers will shortly be releasing the results of other studies that tend to confirm a link between brain cancers and cell phones.

Because many of the studies that are emerging on the relationship between radio frequencies and brain tumors are inconclusive, the health effects of cell phone usage, as well as other radio-frequency- emitting appliances still remain unclear. The NBTF is sponsoring a conference to reveal the latest information on the causes of brain tumors on March 31.

This conference also marks the debut of the NBTF's new, interactive Web site at . NBTF says that this Web site will be the premiere information destination for brain tumor patients, their families, and friends, in addition to creating an online community meeting place with over 300 unique features and services.

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