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Research Reignites Debate Over Cell Phone Radiation
TechWeb News
December 21, 2004

The radio radiation like the kind emitted by cellular phones can damage DNA, at least under laboratory conditions, a group of European researchers announced Monday.

A broad-based research effort of 12 different projects, all under the heading of REFLEX, which is funded by the European Union, has been studying the impact of low-energy electromagnetic radiation, like that put out by typical cell phones.

Cells in the lab showed a significant increase in single- and double-strand DNA breaks when exposed to radio frequencies typical for mobile phones, the research results showed. Over a 24 hour period, cells exposed to such radiation in patterns of five minutes on, ten minutes off had about double the frequency of DNA damage of a control group.

And "there was remaining damage for future generation of cells," project leader Franz Adlkofer was quoted by the Reuters news service as saying. That means broken DNA strands could be passed down the line into mutated cells which could become cancerous.

The research also found that older cells were more likely to show a higher increase in DNA breaks.

A summary of the report concluded that another four to five years of study would likely be necessary to come up with a definitive answer on cell phone radiation impact.

"We don't want to create a panic, but it is good to take precautions," Adlkofer reportedly said to Reuters. He recommended that people use a land line when one's available, and a headset to operate a mobile phone.

Other scientists, however, said that the research, while interesting, was no reason to panic and pitch the cell phone.

"This research is no reason for people to be worried," said Dr. Zenon Sienkiewicz, principal scientific officer at the U.K.'s National Radiological Protection Board, in a statement to the BBC. "Its conclusions should not be over-emphasized. The bottom line is that more research is needed."

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