March 3, 2006

Finns to test mobile phone radiation on human skin

HELSINKI (Reuters) - Finland's radiation watchdog is to
study the effects of mobile phones on human proteins by direct
tests on people's skin, to see if handset transmissions affect
their health.

A pilot study, to be conducted next week, will expose a
small area of skin on volunteers' arms to cellphone radiation
for the duration of a long phone call, or for one hour,
research professor Dariusz Leszczynski said on Friday.

Researchers will then take a skin sample to study and
compare with one taken before the radiation exposure, he told

Cell samples used in previous laboratory tests by the
Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority were all from women, and
to keep consistency in the data, 10 female volunteers will be
used in the new study -- all of them employees at the watchdog.

In previous tests, Leszczynski's group found evidence of
mobile phone radiation causing cell-level changes such as
shrinkage, but he said it was still impossible to say if that
had significant health effects.

"Cells function in a different way when they are in the
body than in laboratory surroundings. Now we want to confirm
whether radiation causes cell level changes in humans as well,"
he said.

The results of the study are due by the end of the year,
and Leszczynski's team hopes to show if radiation has any
impact on the body's natural barrier that prevents toxins and
other dangerous proteins that might be in the bloodstream from
reaching brain cells.

Some researchers suspect brain cancer has become more
common as a result of cellphone use, but there is no clear
evidence to support that, Leszczynski said.

"If harmful proteins get through to the brain, it could
have an indirect link with cancer, but this is pure
speculation," he added.

Finland, home to top global mobile maker Nokia, has one of
the most mature telecom markets in the world, with almost
everyone having a mobile handset.