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Half A Billion Risk Mobile Phone Cancer
New Media Age
By: Bryan Porter
06/25/01

Mobile phone manufacturers could be responsible for generating more than half a billion cancer cases worldwide in the near future, according to new research. A team of Sydney researchers has published what they claim to be the first scientific hypothesis about how mobile phone radiation causes cancer. The report claims that the radiation generated by mobile handsets causes ongoing stress to body cells, causing them to give off 'heat shock proteins', which human cells sometimes release in response to injury or infection. Such a chronic activation of the heat shock response affects the normal regulation of cells, which could result in cancer, the report said.

While this report has been authored by leading Australian medical academics, and is supported by scores of luminaries in the profession, it has been rejected by the country's telecoms industry. Ross Managhan, CEO of the Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association said, 'There is no substantiated scientific evidence that mobile phone exposures within the limits set in strict international safety guidelines cause the over-expression of heat shock proteins.'

To which the Australian researchers responsible for the study would almost surely reply that there is not yet any established means of providing conclusive evidence. On this point, medical academics have reached a standoff with the industry. Yet this doesn't deny the highly plausible probability that many could suffer cancer triggered by mobile phone usage. By ignoring these early warnings, mobile phone manufacturers could be setting themselves up for disastrously high legal claims in years to come.

Presently, the medical research being conducted to investigate the harmful effects of mobile phone radiation is being funded by special interest groups, with nowhere near the type of funding available to the manufacturers themselves. With this in mind, it's not surprising that researchers have not been able to produce conclusive research. At the very least, this new hypothesis should prompt manufacturers to investigate the subject themselves. If not, this research could return to bite them in the future as an unheeded warning.

With mobile phone development continuing apace, newer, faster, handsets are being produced all the time, and in a couple of years we're all expecting broadband connections through mobile handsets, yet there have been no visible studies outlining the dangers of the intensified radiation levels that will accompany these developments. If manufacturers identify the risks now, and heed the warnings carried in the Sydney report, capital invested in preventing and circumventing radiation emissions could save much larger fortunes in the future. Furthermore, on a short term scale it is in the interests of the industry to be proactive. with consumers and the popular press concerned by mobile phone health scares, stories such as this could fuel another backlash, just when the mobile phone industry needs public support and enthusiasm.