Is your ringtone chiming a cancer warning?
There has been lots of newsy stuff on the airwaves this week about the latest WHO report. This has said that mobile phones and mobile phone radiation cause cancer. Or do they? From what’s been published so far, we’re dealing with grey matter here, not black and white!
This is the first longtitudinal study (10 years) into the effect of mobile phone radiation and it was conducted across 12 countries by the International Agency for Cancer Research. Along with a report published on October 13 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology (Mobile Phone Use and Risk of Tumors: A Meta-Analysis, Myung et al. J Clin Oncol.2009; 0:JCO.2008.21.6366v1), there is a possible suggestion that there is an 18% increased risk of brain tumours in heavy mobile phone users and that they tend to occur on the side of the head that the mobile is used most.
OK. We know that the incidence of brain cancer is increasing by a rate of 2% a year. And it isn’t because we have better diagnostic weaponry, so it has to be something in the environment. But this research has holes. For a start the research is not complete and whilst ultimately the findings could prove true it is too early to say. Secondly this research has not been peer reviewed. This is the stage at which other research scientists read the research and look for flaws so that a proper debate can be had. This leads to a more accurate outcome.
So my feelings? Are mobile phones safe? Well, we need to watch this one. But also maybe the DECT phone sitting on your desk. Oh, and the wireless router. And anything else we can think of that may be interfering with our brains. But I don’t think that, even if this research is ultimately conclusive that we will change our behaviour and stop using our mobiles. We know what alcohol and donuts do to us but we still drink and eat them.