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.
April 23, 2010; 8:28 AM ET
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