Currently there’s a debate on whether mobile phones cause brain tumors and laws have been passed requiring cell phone stores to inform customers about safety recommendations. The ordinance, called the Right to Know law, will start to require retailers to give customers a handout, or display a sign in the store, telling them about federal guidelines on the amount of radiation that cell phones can emit and the instructions on safe phone use.
“The law is meant to make consumers aware of the already existing regulations.” The lawyers said.
“The information will also go beyond the current regulations by stating that children and anyone carrying their phone in a pocket or bra could be at increased risk of radiation exposure,” said Joel M. Moskowitz, director of the Center for Family and Community Health at University of California, Berkeley School of Public Health. Moskowitz was involved in creating the law.
Every law has a gap and this particular one does not provide information about the specific health risks of being exposed to radiation.”It is highly probable that long-term cell phone use causes brain tumors, many experts think that the evidence is far from definitive, or that it shows there is no risk.” Maskowitz said.
WHO in 2011 classified the kind of low-energy radiation that cell phones emit as possibly carcinogenic because of a link between cell phone use and a type of malignant brain tumor called glioma and a benign brain tumor called acoustic neuroma. The two brain tumors are rare hence about 5 in 10,000 are diagnosed.
“I don’t think any evidence has come along that would necessarily move from this uncertain designation to something on one side or the other. … In reality we are in a very gray zone with the evidence,” said Jonathan M. Samet, chairman of preventive medicine at University of Southern California who led the WHO panel that determined the classification.
Research has failed to identify the association between cell phone use and brain tumors. A research was done in Denmark and did not find an increase in the number of brain tumors even among those who had been using a cell phone for at least 13 years. However, as Samet said, the WHO panel took into account studies that suggested that those who used cell phones did have higher rates of certain brain tumors.
A study known as Interphone Study carried on research in 13 countries. Researchers asked more than 7,000 people who had been diagnosed with a brain tumor and 14,000 healthy people about their previous cell phone use. The study never found an association between cell phone use and glioma rates except in the group of participants who reported using their cell phone for at least 1,640 hours in their lifetime without a head-set. Those participants were 40% more likely than those who never used a cell phone to have a glioma. However authors of the Interphone study stated that people with brain tumors might be more likely than healthy people to exaggerate their cell phone use, and thus the link between heavy phone use and brain tumor risk in the study might not be real. Reports CNN.
“It’s quite plausible that there would be excess reporting in people who suffered a life-threatening disease. They are looking for an explanation for this tragic circumstance,” said David A. Savitz, professor of epidemiology at Brown University, who was not involved in the Interphone study.
Another study was done in Sweden and found out that people who used a mobile phone were 30% more likely to have a glioma, and those whose use had lasted at least 25 years were three times more likely. The researchers also found that users of cordless phones, which emit less radiation than cell phones, had 40% to 70% higher glioma risk.
“There are individual studies and findings that do produce a risk, but on balance the judgment has to be made on the totality (of the evidence),” Savitz said, adding that there is error in even the best and biggest studies.
“We know quite a bit (about the risk) actually and it seems extremely unlikely that there is an effect. We are down to the range that there is no risk or a risk that is almost too small to detect,” Savitz said.
“I think if it were terribly large, we would have more consistent results from epidemiological data. These pictures are compatible with perhaps a weak or moderate risk,” Semet said.