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Five-Year Cancer Study On
Fears that mobile phones can cause brain cancer are to be the subject of a major study. Scientists are concerned that those who have been using using handsets for more than ten years have an increased chance of developing tumours.
The £3.1million project will monitor the health of about 200,000 volunteers over at least five years.
Professor Lawrie Challis, the expert who is due to lead the research, aims to find out whether mobile phones could be the 'cigarette of the 21st Century' in terms of the damage they cause.
Studies concluding mobile phone use was very safe in the short-term were "encouraging", he said. But he warned there was a "hint of something" for those who used them for longer - and, with the vast majority of Britons now owning and regularly using mobile phones, this was a major concern.
He said the effects of smoking, sunlight, asbestos and nuclear radiation often take more than a decade to show up in the form of cancers.
Professor Challis - who heads the Government funded Mobile Telecommunications Health Research programme - said: "You find absolutely nothing for ten years and then after that it starts to go up dramatically. It goes up ten times.
"Because we all know that most cancers don't show up for more than ten years, I think it is essential we carry on (with research)."
Professor Challis is also preparing to begin a separate study on the impact of mobile phone use on children, whose developing nervous systems could be more vulnerable to radiation.
He is in talks with the Department of Health and the mobile phone industry over funding for the research.
The number of mobile phones in Britain has doubled to 50million since 2000. At the same time the number of children aged between five and nine using mobile has rocketed five-fold.
Campaigners fear that cancers could be caused in the brain by the electromagnetic fields emitted by handsets.