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Mobile phone cancer link unproven, says HPA

mobile-phones 166x138 bcwjnfThere is "no convincing evidence" that mobile phones cause cancer, according to a major report issued by the Health Protection Agency. The report has received a great deal of press attention. Most newspapers stressed the lack of clear risks but others said that mobile phones present an unknown health risk.

The report was a comprehensive, independent review of the evidence on the possible health effects of exposure to radiofrequency (RF) electromagnetic fields.

RF fields are produced not only by mobile phones, but also by other wireless devices such as Wi-Fi, TV and radio transmitters. After looking at hundreds of evidence sources, the review concluded that there is still no convincing evidence that exposure to RF below international guidelines causes any damage to health in adults or children.

However, the review pointed out that mobile phones, which produce the highest exposures to RF in daily life, have only been in widespread public use relatively recently and there is little information on any health risks beyond 15 years of use. On this basis, the researchers say that more information is needed on whether there is an increased risk of brain tumours and other types of cancer with longer-term mobile use and use during childhood. In particular, the authors say a study should be undertaken to look at trends in the rates of brain tumours in the UK population by age and sex in relation to trends in mobile phone use. The overall message is that to date there is no evidence to support a risk, but that as a precautionary measure monitoring should continue.

The current advice from the Department of Health is that children and young people under 16 should be encouraged to use mobile phones for essential purposes only, and should keep any calls short. Using a hands-free kit and texting instead of calling are both ways to reduce RF exposure.

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