Cell Phones and Brain Cancer – Do Phones Need Warnings Like Cigarettes?

cell phones and brain cancerWe’ve heard it before, cell phones cause brain cancer. I’m no doctor but I would think we would have heard more about this if they did. There is no general consensus among doctors about cell phones and brain cancer, and the leaders in the industry (obviously) claim there is no substantial evidence to prove that cell phone radiation levels are dangerous. However, in Maine there is pending legislation to make the state the first one that will require cell phones to sport warnings about the dangers of cell phones.

While San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsome wants his city to be first to require these warnings, Maine Rep. Andrea Boland has pointed out several studies confirming the danger. Boland uses a cell phone however she has a speaker so there is no direct physical contact. She also keeps the cell phone off when not in use to reduce the radiation emitted by her device.

Not unlike the warnings on a pack of cigarettes, Borland’s bill would require manufacturers to put labels on the packaging and on the phone itself that warns the user of potential health hazards due to electromagnetic radiation and recommend that they be kept away from children and pregnant women.

Interestingly, the FCC does not require cell phone makers to divulge the radiation levels emitted. They do state that the phones sold in America are safe and that they have researched and set a standard for the specific absorption rate of radiofrequency energy.

A San Francisco doctor states that

“Cell phones emit what we call non-ionizing radiation, which is thought to be safe. It’s less than the radiation we get from the sun. But the thinking is that, if you have something very close to you, a lot of the time, (such radiation), even if it’s a low dose, there’s a potential that it can cause risk.”

The proposal made in San Francisco would require all cell phones to show the absorption rate level next to the phone in print sized at least as big as the price. In Maine, Borland’s proposal doesn’t require the absorption level to be listed however it would require a non-removable warning in black text (except for the word warning which would be red) AND a color graphic of a child’s brain next to it.

A director of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute sent memos to faculty stating that children should not use cell phones except in emergencies and that adults should use headsets in order to keep the phones away from their heads. This directors warning about cell phone radiation protection was based on unpublished data.

Also a report by a retired electronics engineer focuses on a study that shows a significant increase in risk of brain tumors after using a cell phone for 10 years or more.

Many countries have issued warnings and the European Parliament has called for governmental action. However, the National Cancer Institute states that studies have produced inconsistent results mostly due to lack of data over a significant amount of time as cell phones have only been in widespread use since the 1990s.

A 30 year, large scale study done in Scandinavia has shown that there is NO link to brain tumors from cell phone use.

According to Isabelle Deltour of the Danish Cancer Society:

“We did not detect any clear change in the long-term time trends in the incidence of brain tumors from 1998 to 2003 in any subgroup,”

Adults 20 to 79 years of age from Norway, Sweden, and Denmark were studied over the course of 29 years representing practically their entire adult population. No significant patterns were seen. There was a significant increase in brain tumors starting in 1974 however this long before cell phones became a mainstream commodity.

The fact is that most studies do not show any relation between cell phones and brain cancer and scientists and doctors have yet to find a biological explanation for how this may even occur.

The Cancer Institute’s web site states

“Although research has not consistently demonstrated a link between cellular telephone use and cancer, scientists still caution that further surveillance is needed before conclusions can be drawn,”

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