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Mobile Phone Use and Cancer Linked
London Telegraph
By: Nic Fleming
08/31/07

Fresh fears over the health hazards linked to using mobile phones have been raised after scientists found that handset radiation could trigger cell division.

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Mobile phone radiation could trigger cell division

A study found that exposure to mobile phone signals for just five minutes stimulated human cells to split in two - a process that occurs naturally when tissue grows or rejuvenates, but that is also central to the development of cancer.

Previous research on the safety of mobile use has led to conflicting conclusions, with some suggesting links with tumours in the nervous system and others finding no risks.

The six-year Mobile Telecommunications and Health Research Programme, which provided 8.4 million of Government and industry funding for 25 studies, is expected to present its final report next month.

Official guidance that mobile phones were safe was based on the mainstream scientific assumption that electromagnetic radiation from such devices could damage cells and tissue only by heating them.

advertisementBut the new research, reported in this week's New Scientist, supports the position of those researchers who argue that handsets can trigger potentially harmful changes to cells irrespective of temperature changes.

Prof Rony Seger, a cancer researcher at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel, and colleagues exposed rat and human cells to electromagnetic radiation at a similar frequency to that emitted by mobiles but at only about one tenth of the power.

After just five minutes the researchers identified the production of extracellular signal-regulated kinases (ERK1/2) - natural chemicals that stimulate cell division and growth.

Cancers develop when the body is unable to prevent excessive growth and division of cells in the wrong place.

Prof Seger said yesterday: "The real significance of our findings is that cells are not inert to non-thermal mobile phone radiation.

"We used radiation power levels that were around one tenth of those produced by a normal mobile. The changes we observed were clearly not caused by heating."

The UK has adopted international safety standards for electromagnetic radiation. These state that the amount of energy absorbed from an electric field or radio wave cannot exceed two watts per kilogram (W/kg) when averaged over 10 grams of tissue. Almost all mobile phones emit less that than one W/kg.

Graham Philips, of Powerwatch, a lobby group that campaigns on mobile phones, masts and powerlines, said: "Current safety guidelines assume health effects from mobiles can occur only when significant heating of body tissue occurs.

"This study shows biological changes in response to low-level mobile phone radiation - something that could have implications for health. Further research is required. However, guidance based purely on thermal effects is clearly out of date."