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Friday, June 30, 2006

Cell phone studies find no 'consistent evidence' of cancer link

A review of cell phone studies commissioned by the Swedish Radiation Protection Authority has found no "consistent evidence" of an increased risk of cancer from usage, the agency said.
Studies have differed on whether the use of mobile phones increases the risk of cancer as the handsets have become increasingly popular and efficient.
The governmental agency asked Dr. John D. Boice Jr. and Dr. Joseph K. McLaughlin of the International Epidemiology Institute in Rockville, Md., to evaluate published epidemiological research on the subject.
The review looked at nine studies since 1996 that included factors such as type of phone, duration and frequency of use and brain tumor location.
"No consistent evidence was observed for increased risk of brain cancer (or other forms)," the scientists said in the review, released Wednesday.
The agency acknowledged public concern about the issue and said many studies were still being performed and continued follow-up was needed on any possible carcinogenic effect linked to mobile phone usage.
"You can never say that something is without risk, but at least we can say that there is no scientific evidence for a causal association between the use of cellular phones and cancer," said Lars-Erik Paulsson, a radiation expert with the agency.
The review singled out research by Swedish oncologist Lennart Hardell, which said that long-term users of old-fashioned analog cell phones were at least 30% more likely than nonusers to develop brain tumors. Newer digital phones emit less radiation than older analog models of the sort studied.
Hardell, whose study was published recently in the European Journal of Cancer Prevention, studied 1,617 patients with brain tumors and compared them with a similar-size group of people without tumors.
The review said Hardell's study and some U.S. research with similar findings were "non-informative, either because the follow-up was too short and numbers of cancers too small, or because of serious methodological limitations."
It contrasted those with three studies in the United States, and studies in Finland and Denmark, which Paulsson said used more reliable sampling methods and were based on medical reports rather than interviews with patients.
Those studies found "a consistent picture ... that appears to rule out, with a reasonable degree of certainty, a causal association between cellular telephones and cancer to date," the agency said


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