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Innovation

The good news on cell phones and cancer

A population study covering four of the most cell-happy nations on Earth has found no evidence of a cancer risk from using cell phones. Expect a lot more studies.
Written by Dana Blankenhorn, Inactive on

A population study covering four of the most cell-happy nations on Earth has found no evidence of a cancer risk from using cell phones.

(The picture is from the blog The Epic Truth, used last year when the Pittsburgh Cancer Institute issued a warning to staff on cell phones and cancer.)

Isabelle Deltoir and her colleagues looked at cancer data from 1974-2003, from national cancer registries, and did a regression analysis of nearly 60,000 brain cancer patients from that time.

No change in incidence trends were observed from 1998 to 2003, the time when possible associations between mobile phone use and cancer risk would be informative about an induction period of 5–10 years.

The findings were reported in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

The authors were very careful in describing the implications. It's possible that it takes more then 5-10 years for the impact of radio waves to be seen in cancer rates, they wrote. It's possible that the increased risk is too small to be observed. It's possible there is just an increased risk to some people.

It's also possible there is no increased risk at all.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) seemed to be heeding the warnings of anti-phone activists this spring when it put out an alert recommending that kids' cell phone use be curbed.

Critics charged last spring the FDA had "gutted" its Web site's phone safety pages. The agency warning was responding to a March report from the journal Pathophysiology that warned of risks.

It would seem the burden of proof is now on critics, but expect a lot more studies.

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