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Mobiles Are Getting On Our Nerves
Sun Herald
Journalist: Fia Cumming
October 08, 2000

A former chief medical officer for Telstra claims to have found that exposure to microwaves through the use of mobile phones can cause changes to nerves behind the ears.

Medical researcher Bruce Hocking has told a Senate inquiry into mobile phone radiation the research explained why many people had uncomfortable feelings in their heads after using the phones.

"This is the first time that I am aware of that there has been a clear demonstration of a health effect in humans attributable to a mobile phone," Dr Hocking said.

Dr Hocking was Telstra's chief medical officer for 18 years until 1995.

In 1990-91 he began to notice a pattern where people, both customers and Telstra staff, complained about feelings in their heads after using mobile phones.

He prepared an internal report on complaints from Telstra staff and referred them to a Sydney neurologist. His job was later abolished.

Dr Hocking and clinical neurophysicist Rod Westerman recently completed a detailed study of one man with on-going symptoms.

It found a marked difference in the responsiveness of nerves behind and just in front of the man's right ear.

"The fact is that he got the changes on the side of the head where he used the phone," Dr Hocking said.

Although it was only one case, he said it was a "significant warning" that mobile phones were likely to be disturbing nerve functions.

A Telstra spokeswoman said: "There are many studies that haven't found adverse neurological effects and Telstra will of course rely on expert advice from groups like the World Health Organisation. We assess all the different studies and reports as well."

She said Dr Hocking took a redundancy package as part of the corporation's decision to outsource its medical advice, along with many other functions.

Dr Hocking also gave the inquiry a new analysis of his controversial research on leukaemia in children living within 4km of television towers on Sydney's lower north shore.

It showed that 10 years after being diagnosed with leukemia, the children living closest to the towers had only half the survival rate of those further away.

Dr Hocking had previously found that there was a 50 per cent increased risk of children developing leukaemia in the areas next to the towers.

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