Two new studies are contributing to the ongoing debate over cellular phone use and a possible brain cancer link. One group of researchers declared cell phones a cancer-causing agent, presenting the same public health risk as engine exhaust and asbestos. Another group found no convincing evidence of a cancer connection. Toxic tort attorneys at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm believe that more research is needed to reach a definitive result and protect consumers from possible harm.
The study classifying cell phones as “possibly carcinogenic” was released in May of 2011 by the World Health Organization, after extensive analysis by 31 scientists from 14 countries. The group reviewed a host of previously published studies, finding that cell phones emit the same non-ionizing radiation as low-powered microwave ovens. This radiation essentially cooks the brain and leads to an increased risk for glioma and acoustic neuroma brain cancer. According to the WHO report, the side of the head and temporal lobe of the brain where cell phones are typically held are most at risk for tumors.
Researchers admit there is still uncertainty because the long-term consequences of cell phone use can only be revealed after decades of exposure. However, another study released in 2010, based on interviews from more than 13,000 cell phone users over a 10-year period, found that participants experienced double the rate of brain tumors. Another recently published study found that cell phone users who logged high levels of “call time” on their cell phones faced a 40 percent increased risk for brain cancer.
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Heightening the debate, yet another group of experts from the United States, Sweden, and England dismissed the results of the WHO study one month after it was released, finding that national statistics and similar studies do not support a cell phone brain cancer connection. According to Bloomberg, this international panel of experts did not find any biological mechanism linking cell phone radiation to brain cancer in humans or animals. Although there is not enough evidence to show a definite link between cell phone use and certain kinds of brain tumors, researchers are unable to rule out the possibility of a connection.
The mere possibility that cell phones pose an environmental health hazard similar to that of asbestos is enough to trigger concern. Cell phone use has exploded in the last couple of decades, and nearly five billion cell phone users around the world face a potential risk of harm. In addition to brain cancer and tumors around the head and neck area, cell phone users may also experience cognitive memory loss. Children and young adults are particularly at risk, because their skulls and scalps are thinner and radiation can penetrate deeper into their brains.
Given the absence of extensive, long-term research on the brain cancer cell phone connection, we believe that consumers should be aware of the possible danger that extensive cell phone use presents. Radiofrequency radiation may be lessened by a Bluetooth or wired headset, and vulnerable children should be kept away from cell phones as much as possible to avoid a cancer risk. Further research needs to be conducted, because early warnings may help reduce the number of cancer deaths attributable to cell phone use.