Connection Between Cell Phone Use and Cancer

Cell phone and cancer

Will we one day be seeing warning labels on cell phones saying prolonged use may cause cancer? Lawmakers are starting to wonder and are asking for more federally funded research into the possible connection between cell phone use and cancer.

Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), who is the new chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, is now stating he wants to look into any possible links between the use of cell phones and cancer. Harkin took over leadership of the influential Senate committee from Sen. Edward Kennedy, who recently died of brain cancer.

“I’m reminded of this nation’s experience with cigarettes,” Harkin said, according to a Reuters news report. “Decades passed between the first warnings about smoking tobacco and the final definitive conclusion that cigarettes cause lung cancer.” He just scheduled a subcommittee hearing to investigate the cell phone-cancer link and said he will work with other authorities, including the National Institutes of Health, to fully look to see if there are any connections between cell phone use and cancer.

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A recent report from the Environmental Working Group showing that radio waves emitted from the phones vary depending on the brand of cell phone are starting to concern many people including lawmakers. This unknown technology makes people question the risks of radiation from cell phones. There’s still an open question about whether long term exposure to these mobile devices will cause damage or disease to human beings.

Dr. Siegal Sadetzki, an epidemiologist and lecturer at Tel Aviv University, has been studying the effects of cell phones on public health for 10 years. Part of the problem, she said, is that people have not been using cell phones long enough to draw any concrete conclusions. Widespread cell phone use did not begin in the U.S. until the mid-1990's and the number of people who spend time on their mobile phones has since increased exponentially, she said. As a result, we need longer periods of study.

Still, Sadetzki did not believe cell phones need to be abolished. "Cell phone technology is here to stay. However, the question that needs to be answered is not whether we should use them, but how," she said.

The government is currently working on a long-term study of cell phone safety, and any sort of connection between cell phone use and cancer. The study is scheduled to start in 2010 and results will not be ready until 2013 or 2014, said Jon Bucher, executive director of the National Toxicology Program (NTP) within the National Institutes of Health.

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