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Europeans launch first long-term cellphone health study -- where is U.S.?

Five European nations on Thursday launched the first long-term study on the potential effects of mobile phone use on health. This will fulfill a years-long push by some public interest groups and scientists for longer and better studies on the potential health risks of using cellphones.

But where is the U.S. -- with 270 million cellphone users -- in this effort? So far, the CTIA and U.S. federal government have been fairly quiet on the issue, pointing to research done years ago by the World Health Organization and American Cancer Society that says there can't conclusively be a link between cellphone use and cancer. That's different than saying there isn't a link.

But advocates of warning labels and more research say those studies need to be updated. They need to capture cellphone use over a longer period of time. And they need to include the effects on youth -- one of the fastest growing user population.

Meanwhile, there are state efforts to better inform users about potential risks to children and to better label phones with specific absorption rates of radiation. Last month, the Maine legislature defeated a bill that would require cellphone makers to put warning labels on phones for use by children. CTIA and TechAmerica, industry trade groups, went up to the state to lobby against it. That bill was defeated along with a diluted version that didn't include warning labels but called for more research.

California is cooking up a bill that would require better labeling of radiation levels emitted from phones.

Here are the details of the European study as reported by Reuters.

The biggest study to date into the effects of mobile-phone usage on long-term health was launched on Thursday, aiming to track at least a quarter of a million of people in five European countries for up to 30 years.

The Cohort Study on Mobile Communications (COSMOS) differs from previous attempts to examine links between cellphone use and diseases such as cancer and neurological disorders in that it will follow users' behavior in real time.

Most other large-scale studies have centered around asking people already suffering from cancer or other diseases about their previous mobile-phone use. They have also been shorter, since cellphones have only been widely used for about a decade.

"One of the limitations of research to date is that when you ask people about their mobile phone use say five years ago there's a lot of error," said Jack Rowley, director of research and sustainability at industry body the GSM Association.

By Cecilia Kang  |  April 23, 2010; 8:28 AM ET
 
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Comments

This is a valid concern, that carrying a radiowave-emitting gadget close to your brain might do something... at the same time, radiowaves are a form of non-ionizing radiation. Non-ionizing radiation doesn't mess around with DNA like ionizing radiation does. I guess it's a balance between the known (non-ionizing radiation is okay) and the unknown (humans were not designed to have a cellphone glued to their heads). We'll just have to see what the europeans come up with.

Posted by: EpiRen | April 23, 2010 10:19 AM | Report abuse

In New Scientist vol 180 issue 2417 (18 October 2003, page 10 - http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg18024171.200-enzymes-scan-dna-using-electric-pulse.html) issue there is an article on research that suggests repair enzymes scan DNA using an electric pulse to detect damage.

Maybe the low energy microwaves and/or the electromagnetic fields created by mobile phones are sufficient to disrupt this "electron scan". Therefore mobile phones may not be causing extra damage to cells, but they may instead be preventing existing damage from being repaired.

Any scientific testing as to whether mobile phone radiation causes cancers in mice (or people!) therefore needs to test a minimum of four scenarios:

1) Mice in the presence of BOTH mobile phone radiation AND a mutagenic substance.
2) Mice in the presence of ONLY mobile phone radiation and NO a mutagenic substance.
2) Mice in the presence of NO mobile phone radiation BUT a mutagenic substance is present.
2) Mice in the presence of NO mobile phone radiation and NO mutagenic substance.

Kris Ericksen
Wellington
New Zealand

Posted by: skf123 | April 23, 2010 9:07 PM | Report abuse

Indian Research shows Mobile phone use direct results in IMPOTENCY.

EU will spend millions to know this afterward.

Posted by: Indian2011 | April 24, 2010 8:06 AM | Report abuse

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