Sydney's St Vincent's hospital has begun to test the long-term effects of mobile phone use in what it claims to be the first trial of its kind worldwide.
The hospital's Centre for Immunology will simulate mobile phone radiation and test its long-term, intermittent impact on human brain cells.
"This hasn't been done before," said Dr Peter French, who is involved in the research project. French pointed out that previous research has only tested short-term exposure to electromagnetic radiation through mobile phones on animals or cells.
The Centre is testing its hypothesis, published in June last year, that chronic long-term mobile phone use could lead to the activation of heat shock proteins and that the chronic stimulation of these proteins could cause cells to become cancerous.
"We honestly don't know what we'll find," French added. "The cells might become immune to long term intermittent exposure but we may find that the longer we go the worse the effects are on brain cells... clear evidence that is relevant to human health."
Although French concedes that that there is "no consistency" to previous research into the effects of mobile phone radiation, "the exposure chamber really does give us the accurate ability to simulate mobile phone radiatio," he said.
French also said that having its proposed "heat shock protein" theory at the centre of the research "gives us a very testable hypothesis."
Using an exposure chamber donated to the Centre by Telstra Research Laboratories, the brain cells will endure four exposures of one hour a day to radiation. The experimental stage of the trial will last three to six months, with the Centre hopeful of publishing the results by the end of 2002.
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