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Cellphone Use Does Not Increase Cancer Risk Among Children

July 28, 2011

Researchers from Europe studying children’s risk of brain cancer with frequent use of mobile communication devices have found no significant risk despite some recent warnings to the contrary, according to various media reports.

Scientists tracked 352 children ages 7 to 19 who were diagnosed with brain cancer between 2004 and 2008 in Norway, Denmark, Sweden and Switzerland. The children were interviewed about their prior cellphone use, and compared them with 646 healthy children and teens.

The findings, published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute and partially funded by mobile phone operators, addresses concerns that children may be more vulnerable to health risks from electromagnetic radiation from cellphones.

Denis Aydin of the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, and colleagues note that radio frequency electromagnetic fields (EMF) created by cellphones penetrate deeper into children’s brains than adults’ brains, mainly because kids’ skulls are smaller, AP reported.

Recent studies have suggested that small children’s brains absorb twice as much mobile phone energy as adults’ brains.

“If mobile phone use would be a risk factor, you’d expect cancer patients to have a higher amount of usage,” lead researcher Professor Martin Roosli told Reuters.

Authors of the study also point out that EMF, unlike the radiation given off by X-rays or CT scans, isn’t strong enough to damage DNA, cause mutations and lead to cancer.

Although many people are concerned about cellphone radiation, no one has ever come up with a way to explain how the devices might cause cancer, Martha Linet, a doctor with the National Cancer Institute who wasn’t involved in the study, told USA Today.

If the use of cellphones was a cause of brain tumors, researchers might expect to find those tumors on the side of the head where kids hold their phones. In the new study, however, children had the lowest risk of tumors in the part of the brain exposed to the most cellphone energy, write scientists John Boice and Robert Tarone in an accompanying editorial.

They note that there has been no increase in brain tumors, among kids or adults, since cellphones came into widespread use in the 1990s.

“Scientific evidence has overwhelmingly indicated that wireless devices do not pose a public health risk for adults or children,” said John Walls of CTIA-The Wireless Association, in a statement.

Consumers who remain concerned can take a number of steps to reduce their exposure to cellphone energy, such as using a hands-free device or a speakerphone, the American Cancer Society told The Associated Press.

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