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Cell Phone Use Linked To Brain Tumors?
Philippine Daily Inquirer
June 23, 2006

When we think of a typical 21st century scenario of an urban dwellers lifestyle, we usually include cell phones, PDAs, notebooks, computers, microwave ovens and TVs in the picture. They are very much a part of our world and to many, its impossible to imagine a life without them. And what do all these devices have in common? With prolonged exposure, they can also be a harmful source of electromagnetic field (EMF) radiation.

EMF pollution causes a different type of environmental pollution which can be more risky to ones health than the usual air pollution we can easily detect and protect ourselves from. EMF radiation is a major stressor of the body and we get a fair amount of it every day, everywhere. Yet, we cant see it, we cant hear it, we cant smell it.

Conflicting results
Some researches seem to suggest that the increased incidence of brain tumors during the last decade or so is attributable to cell phone use. Preliminary data would show that the brain tumor is usually located on the side where the patient would use his/her cell phone.

But results from studies have been conflicting. Last year, the Dutch Health Council, reviewing all available data from all over the world, found no conclusive evidence that radiation from mobile phones and TV towers was harmful. A four-year British survey released early this year also showed no link between regular, long-term use of cell phones and brain tumor.

These earlier publications seemed reassuring to cell phone users until researchers at the Swedish National Institute for Working Life observed in their study that the use of mobile phones over a long period of time can raise the risk for brain tumors, contradicting the conclusions of earlier researches.

The Swedish researchers looked at the mobile phone use of 905 people between the age of 20 and 80 who had been diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumor, and they found a link with their cell phone use.

The study noted that 85 of these 905 cases were so-called high users of mobile phones, that is they began early to use mobile and/or wireless telephones and used them a lot. Similar to the observations of previous studies, the tumors were more prevalent on the side of the head where the phone was said to be used.

Increased risk
Dr. Kjell Mild, head investigator of the study, said the figures meant that heavy users of mobile phones, accumulating 2,000 hours or more of cell phone use in their life, had a 240 percent increased risk for a malignant tumor on the side of the head the phone is used. In practical terms, if one uses cell phones an average of one hour a day (total daily use), he would have a 240 percent risk of developing a brain tumor in 5.4 years compared to nonusers of cell phones.

Dr. Mild suggested that to get the risk down, one should use hands-free phones but other experts dont seem to agree. They hypothesize that hands-free devices even serve as an antenna that attract more EMF radiation.

Another important observation in some of these studies is that children and younger people are more vulnerable to EMF waves due to their relatively thinner skulls, which are still maturing and growing. With the unlimited text and call promos available in our country, many youngsters spend minutes and sometimes hours making telebabad on their cell phones. This can pose a potential problem later on.

Inadequate disclosure
Since hands-free devices dont seem to offer any protection, the only safeguard I can think of at this point to minimize EMF radiation from cell phones is to use it only when its necessary. If a landline is available, then we should use it instead of the cell phone.

And just like the cigarette manufacturers, the network providers (Globe, Smart, and Sun) should also have a line at the bottom of their advertisements stating something like: Preliminary evidence suggests that accumulated exposure to cell phone radiation might increase the risk of brain tumors. This should free them from any liability of inadequate disclosure which cell phone users who eventually develop brain tumors might file against them.

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