From The Washington Post:
By John Donnelly
Special to The Washington Post
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
Lisa Oakley knows that some studies on long-term use of cellphones suggest an increased correlation with cancerous tumors. And she knows of a couple of people who have had brain tumors, and wonders whether their cellphones had anything to do with it.
Still, the Chevy Chase, D.C., mother, didn’t think long about health hazards when she bought a phone last year for her 12-year-old son, Will. For one thing, several other studies have shown no health risks at all. And for another, Will rarely holds the phone to his head. He holds it in his hands, sending text messages to friends.
“He never talks on it, and I think this is true with a lot of kids, they seem to just text,” Oakley said. “It would be different if I did see my son talk on the phone all the time. But there are a lot of questions. Are some cellphones worse than others? . . . What about living near a cellphone tower? I would love it if there were definitive data out there.”
A long-awaited study by the International Agency for Cancer Research — an arm of the World Health Organization — will attempt to give the world’s billions of cellphone users a better informed perspective; the findings are now in the midst of peer review for publication. The so-called Interphone study looks at the results of published national studies in 13 countries (the list includes Canada, eight European nations, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and Israel, but not the United States) to assess whether radio-frequency radiation exposure from cellphones is associated with cancer risk.
The international study, though, will hardly be the last word. Now in motion is a 10-year, $25 million research project by the U.S. government. It will soon beam 10 hours’ worth of cellphone radio waves daily into specially designed stainless-steel containers housing rats and mice to test whether cellphones pose any health risk. Preliminary results are expected in two to three years.
The truth is that after nearly two decades of widespread cellphone use, “we don’t know if cellphones pose a health risk,” said Michael Wyde, a toxicologist at the National Toxicity Program in Research Triangle Park, N.C., and the project leader on the ongoing U.S. study. “Everyone has to make their own decision on whether to limit exposures or not.”
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