There are fears that the electromagnetic radiation emitted from mobile phone handsets may harm health. In particular, there have been claims that it could affect the body’s cells, brain or immune system and increase the risk of developing a range of diseases from cancer to Alzheimer’s. Laboratory tests on mice have shown that radiation from mobile phones can have an adverse effect on their overall health. It is still not clear whether those findings can be applied directly to humans. A study by scientists in Finland, published in 2002, suggested that the electromagnetic radiation did affect human brain tissue. But they played down their findings saying more research was needed to see if the effects were the same in living people. Another study by scientists in Sweden, also published in 2002, claimed to have found a link between analogue mobile phones and brain tumours. It suggested users of “first generation” phones had a 30% higher risk of developing tumours than people who did not. However, the findings were controversial and there have been no similar studies into the effects of modern GSM phones. There have also been reports of people suffering from headaches, fatigue and loss of concentration after using their mobile phones. However, these claims have not been scientifically substantiated.
The 13-country INTERPHONE study, the largest case-control study done to date, looked at cell phone use among more than 5,000 people who developed brain tumors (gliomas or meningiomas) and a similar group of people without tumors. Overall, the study found no link between brain tumor risk and the frequency of calls, longer call time, or cell phone use for 10 or more years. There was a suggestion of a possible increased risk of glioma, and a smaller suggestion of an increased risk of meningioma, in the 10% of people who used their cell phones the most. But this finding was hard to interpret because some people in the study reported implausibly high cell phone use, as well as other issues. The researchers noted that the shortcomings of the study prevented them from drawing any firm conclusions, and that more research was needed.
This 2017 systematic review and meta-analysis, published in PLOS One, looked at mobile phone use in case-control studies and the risk of glioma. “Our results suggest that long-term mobile phone use may be associated with an increased risk of glioma,” they wrote. The researchers found an association between mobile phone use and low-grade glioma in the people who used cellphones regularly or for 10 years or more. “However, current evidence is of poor quality and limited quantity,” they added, and called for prospective studies to confirm the results.
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The NTP studied radiofrequency radiation (2G and 3G frequencies) in rats and mice (33, 34). This large project was conducted in highly specialized labs that specified and controlled sources of radiation and measured their effects. The rodents experienced whole-body exposures of 3, 6, or 9 watts per kilogram of body weight for 5 or 7 days per week for 18 hours per day in cycles of 10 minutes on, 10 minutes off. A research overview of the rodent studies, with links to the peer-review summary, is available on NTP website. The primary outcomes observed were a small number of cancers of Schwann cells in the heart and non-cancerous changes (hyperplasia) in the same tissues for male rats, but not female rats, nor in mice overall.
During the years 1996-1999, due to the sharp increase in mobile phone use, several expert committees convened worldwide to discuss the question whether the radiowave radiation that is emitted from the mobile phone is harmful to health. Their conclusion was that existing scientific knowledge is insufficient to determine the existence or absence of harm to health.
When you talk, your voice is transmitted from the antenna as radio frequency radiation (RFR) between 800 MHz and 2,200 MHz. A range equal to the middle of microwave frequency and 20% to 80% of the radiation emitted is deposited in the user's head. The microwave radiation is absorbed and penetrates the area around the head, some reaching an inch, to an inch and a half into the brain. Exposure to this microwave RFR has shown to have serious health consequences. Laboratory studies have shown that radiation from cell phones expose the user to a wide range of health problems including:
What the study showed: Self-reported cell phone use was not associated with an increased risk of glioma, meningioma, or non-central nervous system tumors. Although the original published findings reported an association with an increased risk of acoustic neuroma (14), this association disappeared after additional years of follow-up of the cohort (15).