US Study on Cellphone Radiation Won't Settle Debate

The NIH published the preliminary findings from its first-ever large study on cell phone radiation and cancer on Friday finding an increased risk at least one kind of cancer in rats

If there's any lingering concern about possible cancer risks, the government researchers themselves say they have not changed their own cell phone habits.

Though they are not common in human hearts, cardiac tissue is a good target for cell phone radiation, Dr Bucher says.

An unusual pattern of cardiomyopathy, a sign of an enlarged and damaged heart, was seen in both male and female rats, the study found. It cost the FDA $25 million to fund these two long-term studies.

In the NTP mouse study, there was a significant positive trend in the incidence of alveolar/bronchiolar adenoma or carcinoma (combined) of the lung in males exposed to radiofrequency radiation, while compared to the sham controls, all exposed groups of females had increased incidence of malignant lymphoma.

"The intriguing part of this is the kind of tumours we saw were similar to tumours noted for quite some time in some epidemiological studies in heavy duty cellphone users", John Bucher, a senior scientist with NTP, said in a telephone interview. These noncancerous schwannomas are most common in the vestibular nerve that connects the brain and the ear.

Does this new study raise any concerns for you? This includes EWG's Guide to Safer Cellphone Use and Six Questions about Cellphone Radiation and Your Health.

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In this study, researchers exposed rats and mice to high levels of radiofrequency radiation, 9 hours a day for more than two years. Based on limited research that shows a potentially elevated risk of schwannomas near the brain in people, the International Agency for Research on Cancer now lists radio-frequency fields as "possibly carcinogenic to humans".

He said the findings are meant to help inform the design of future cell phone technologies. The levels ranged from a low of 1.5 watts per kilogram to a high of 10 watts per kilogram, and exposures were limited to the 2G and 3G frequencies, which are still widely used for voice calls and texting. It does not apply to 4G or 5G, which use different frequencies and modulation, he said.

On Friday, the US National Toxicology Program (NTP), a division of the US Department of Health and Human Services, threw fresh kindling onto the smouldering debate over whether mobile phones are harmful to our health. Bucher added that other agencies are studying cellphone use in people and its links to cancer.

The findings don't suggest that US regulations on cellphone radiation need to be tightened, said Jeffrey Shuren, director of FDA's Center for Devices and Radiological Health in Silver Spring, Maryland, in a statement. "Based on this current information, we believe the current safety limits for cellphones are acceptable for protecting the public health". "I wouldn't change my behavior based on these studies, and I haven't", he said.

"International and US organizations and health experts have maintained their longstanding conclusion that the scientific evidence shows no known health risk due to the RF energy emitted by cellphones", said Justin Cole, a spokesman for the trade group.

In response to the NTP studies being released Friday, the FDA reaffirmed that stance while stating that it was eager to participate in the peer review process of the reports, which will begin later this March.

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