Can Your Cell Phone Cause Brain Cancer? Study Says Maybe

Julie Ryan Evans

girls on cell phones
Flickr photo by Pink Sherbet Photography
The debate has gone on for years: Can talking on a cell phone cause brain cancer? No study has been able to confirm that it does, but a new one says it can't say it doesn't.

The international study, Interphone (partially funded by the cell phone industry itself), didn't show a direct link for most people, but there were enough questions that came from the study that researchers aren't willing to rule out a link either.

"I'm not telling people to stop using the phone. I'm saying that I can't tell you if cell phones are dangerous, but I can tell you that I'm not sure that they are safe," Dr. Devra Davis, professor of preventive medicine at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York, told CNN.

While researchers said the study showed no increase in brain cancer in "regular" users, there was an increase in those who talk on the phone a lot -- which they defined as "using a mobile phone half an hour a day over a 10-year period." For those people, there was a 40 percent risk in brain tumors. And with "an adjustment for statistical bias," it rose to 80 percent!

That's a big risk. While researchers dismissed it for "biases and errors" and said people in that high exposure group is small, they also defined "regular" users as those people who only talk on their mobile phone once a week.

Judging by the number of people I see driving around talking on theirs constantly, "regular" is a lot more than that ... and rising all the time. Think how many times you're on yours -- on the way to and from your child's school? While you're grocery shopping? Waiting for your son to finish soccer practice? It all adds up!

And think about all the children who have cell phones and are growing up with them integrated into their daily lives. Scary!

"To me, there's certainly smoke there," Elisabeth Cardis, who leads the Interphone project, told The Microwave News. "Overall, my opinion is that the results show a real effect." 

I've always been leery about cell phone usage, and actually detest talking on any phone -- I much prefer email or personal interactions, but I do so love my iPhone and I use it more than I'd like.

While this study was notably flawed, the fact they show any link between brain cancer and phone usage is enough to make me consider stopping all my mobile calls (there would be major withdrawal, I'm sure). At the very least, I'm going to refuse to talk on it anymore until I go out and buy that headset I've been meaning to buy -- which is one of the ways you can reduce your radiation exposure.

What about you, will this study make you rethink your mobile phone usage?

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