No cancer risk from cell phone use?

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No connection between cancer risk and cell phone use

After the World Health Organization warned just a few months ago of the possible carcinogenic effects of high-frequency electromagnetic radiation, Danish researchers from the Institute for Cancer Epidemiology in Copenhagen have now come to the conclusion in the largest study to date on cell phone radiation and cancer that the usual Use of cell phones does not involve an increased risk of cancer.

The possible health risks of cell phone radiation are still extremely controversial even among experts. It was only in May that the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) published a comprehensive study that prompted the WHO to warn of the "possibly carcinogenic" effects of electromagnetic fields from mobile phones. The IARC's Interphone study found that when comparing data from 13 countries, there was a slightly higher likelihood of illness from special brain tumors (gliomas) in people who used their mobile phones a lot. Scientists at the Institute of Cancer Epidemiology in Copenhagen are now reporting in the latest issue of the British Medical Journal that their research does not reveal such a “connection between the occurrence of cancer and the use of cell phones”.

So far the most comprehensive study on cancer risk from mobile communications According to their own statements, the scientists of the Institute for Cancer Epidemiology were unable to find any increase in the cancer risk in the largest study to date on the risks of cell phone radiation. In the course of their study, the researchers took into account the cancer registry data of all Danes over the age of 30 and all cell phone contracts that were concluded between 1982 and 1995 by the approximately 5.5 million inhabitants of Denmark. Since the so-called personal identification number is always recorded in Denmark both when a cell phone contract is concluded and in the cancer registry, epidemiologists were able to compare possible connections between the duration of the cell phone use and the occurrence of cancer relatively easily. In view of the results, the researchers at the Institute of Cancer Epidemiology in Copenhagen gave the all-clear for the normal use of mobile phones and emphasized that there is no increased risk of cancer from mobile phones. This also applies to the occurrence of rare brain tumors (gliomas) and to people who have been using cell phones for more than 13 years.

No complete all-clear for cell phone radiation The researchers led by Patrizia Frei from the Institute for Cancer Epidemiology did not want to give the all-clear. Because, according to the scientists, “many questions still remain”. For example, "a very high usage over decades may result in an increased risk of cancer," Patrizia Frei told the Süddeutsche Zeitung. The experts also explained that the risk of cancer in children due to cell phone radiation was not analyzed in more detail in the current study and therefore remains unclear. An uncertainty factor also remains in the data evaluation, since around 200,000 contracts for company cell phones could not be assigned to a person and were therefore sorted out or allocated to the group of non-users. If the users of the company cell phones were frequent users who may have suffered from an increased cancer risk, the classification of the non-users would have increased their cancer risk statistically, whereas this would have been reduced for the cell phone users, explained Patrizia Frei possible weaknesses of the own study. Another deficit of the investigation is that all Danes who only signed their first mobile phone contract after 1996 were also listed as non-users, the expert explained.

Nevertheless, the Danish study remains methodologically flawless compared to previous studies. The mere fact that it was created as a cohort study that spans the whole age group instead of subsequently asking selected people about their cell phone use offers considerable advantages, according to the scientists. In the IACR Interphone study, for example, the data was based only on the information provided by selected study participants. However, the subsequent interviews can result in considerable distortions of the results, explained Patrizia Frei. For example, cancer patients would be more likely to take part in such surveys and would also remember too many cell phone calls if they personally suspect this to be the cause of their cancer.

No connection between cancer and cell phone radiation? In a commentary on the latest publication in the British Medical Journal, Anders Ahlbom and Maria Feychting from the Swedish Karolinska Institute report that most serious studies have found no increased cancer risk from cell phone radiation. This assessment is also confirmed by the figures in the cancer statistics, according to which the occurrence of brain tumors has not increased in the past 40 years. If cell phone radiation is carcinogenic, this should have been evident in the statistics long ago, according to the comment by Ahlbom and Feychting. However, this conclusion seems a little premature. Because it remains unclear whether cell phones may have a carcinogenic effect in the long term. The longest considered mobile phone usage so far refers to a period of 13 years. Previous studies have not been able to clearly clarify what the consequences are after 20, 30 or 50 years of using a mobile phone in the human body. Since the Danish researchers also emphasize that further studies are necessary to finally assess the risk of cancer from cell phone radiation, the public at this point is about as smart after the study as before.

Residual risk for health cannot be ruled out so far Numerous studies have been published in the past, which point to a possible carcinogenic effect of mobile phone radiation, said the physicist Dr. Hartmut Voigt from the ECOLOG - Institute for Social-Ecological Research and Education in Hanover in early June opposite "". For this reason, the ECOLOG Institute had already submitted its own limit value recommendation for the “total pollution of all immissions” in the outdoor area of ​​10 milliwatts per square meter years ago. According to ECOLOG, a limit value of one milliwatt per square meter should even be maintained in the interior. Like Dr. Hartmut Voigt explained, the limit values ​​refer to a whole body load. However, according to the expert, people who have their cell phones on their ears all the time are exposed to increased radiation, especially in the head area. This may increase the risk of tissue changes in the brain even if the general limit values ​​are observed. As a precautionary measure, Patrizia Frei therefore generally recommends that cell phone use be kept to a minimum. (fp)

Also read:
Cell phone radiation may cause cancer
No cancer risk from cell phone radiation?

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