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Doctor Gives Backing To Mobile Phone Fears
This Is Exeter
September 12, 2001

A top Exeter doctor has backed warnings to parents to restrict their children's mobile phone use after new evidence linked such activity with brain cancer.

The research, by one of Britain's leading experts in electro-magnetic radiation, claimed that people who use a phone for two hours a day for five years are two to three times more likely to develop brain cancer than non-users.

Alasdair Phillips, who runs departments at both Nottingham and Bristol universities, said that children under 16 were particularly at risk because their skulls were softer and their brain was not fully developed.

And Dr Mark Kealy, communicable diseases expert at North and East Devon Health Authority, said: "I'd go along with what is being said.

"I wouldn't advocate mobile phones being used to chat socially, although I fully agree with children having them in case of emergencies."

Dr Kealy said because of the relative newness of hand-held mobile phones, it had not been possible to carry out any long-term research into their potential effects on health.

"The problem is assessing what damage is being done, because it hasn't been possible for people to use mobile phones for any length of time.

"It's only in the last five years that tariffs have been so low that people have found them cheap enough to use for any length of time.

"It's not a long time for people to accumulate any effects of exposure and the problem is that we don't yet know what problems there are going to be."

Exeter mum Gill Ewings, whose daughters Lizzie, 13, and Fran, 16, both have mobile phones, said she agreed that they should only be used when absolutely necessary. Mrs Ewings, who lives in Heavitree, said: "I think that if they are in town and they are in a phone-box when it's dark, that they are vulnerable, to a degree.

"My eldest daughter's boyfriend lives in Cornwall, but while she may use a mobile phone to contact him to warn him she is going to ring, she uses a land-line to talk to him for any length of time.

"One of my girls has rung me via the mobile when her horse threw a shoe — she got home five hours later and we would have been frantic if she hadn't been able to contact us.

"But I do agree that mobile phones should only be used when necessary — we don't know enough about what damage they can do yet."

The Government said mobile phone conversations should be limited to two minutes and children should use them for emergencies only.

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