Researchers cast doubt on cell-phone cancer risk

Researchers find that the number of instances of cancer have remained relatively static between 1970 and 2008.

A new report has punched some holes into arguments that mobile phones may cause cancer.

"Although there remains some uncertainty, the trend in the accumulating evidence is increasingly against the hypothesis that mobile phone use can cause brain tumors in adults," researchers from the International Commission for Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection Standing Committee on Epidemiology concluded in their findings published late last week in the Environmental Health Perspectives journal.

In the journal, the researchers released findings on brain cancer instances for males and females across different age categories both before and after handsets were released. They found that the instances of cancer have remained relatively static between 1970 and 2008.

They also referenced other studies on the topic.

"Methodological deficits limit the conclusions that can be drawn from [the] Interphone [study], but its results, along with those from other epidemiological, biological and animal studies, and brain tumor incidence trends, suggest that within about 10-15 years after first use of mobile phones there is unlikely to be a material increase in the risk of brain tumors in adults," the researchers wrote.

The debate over whether mobile phones can cause cancer has been raging for years. In 2004, for instance, a Swedish research institute found that 10 years or more of mobile phone use can cause tumors to grow in humans. In 2007, scientists found that just 10 minutes of handset use can cause changes in the brain that have been known to cause cancer.

The debate hit a tipping point in May when a division of the World Health Organization classified mobile devices as a " carcinogenic hazard ." Exhaust from gas engines, lead, and coffee also have that classification.

The World Health Organization had previously said it could not find a link between mobile phone use and cancer. Even in its most recent findings and classification, the organization acknowledged that it still could not find a definite link between cancer and mobile phone use, and said that more research was needed.

The researchers behind the latest study also acknowledge that there is much more work to be done. They also noted that researching cancer risks, especially in children, can be difficult, since data "for childhood tumors and for periods beyond 15 years are currently lacking." But according to the researchers, at least for now, evidence is piling up that handsets do not appear to cause cancer.

For a full, in-depth look from CNET at the cancer risk associated with mobile phones, click here .

The number of cases of glioma--a type of brain cancer--per 100,000, according to data from the National Board of Health and Welfare in Sweden.
Number of cases of glioma--a type of brain cancer--per 100,000, according to the National Board of Health and Welfare in Sweden.

 

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