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Anti-RadiationTrousers Fuel Mobile Phone Debate

U.S. jeans maker Levi Strauss & Co. denied on Thursday it was playing on consumer fears by launching a line of trousers fitted with "anti-radiation" pockets for mobile phones. The trousers, with a lining which the makers say shields against radiation, are designed by Dockers, a brand name of Levi Strauss -- famous for its classic "501" jeans.

Retailers were currently viewing the new line, called Icon S-Fit, with an eye to sales from next spring, a Levi's spokesman said. "We're not implying in any way that mobile phones are dangerous," Levi's European communications manager Cedric Jungpeter told Reuters. "Our intention is not to cash in on consumer fears but provide the consumers with what they want," he said from Levi's European headquarters in Brussels. The finished design was the fruit of extensive market research showing that the fashion conscious were also health conscious, Jungpeter said.

"The debate is open. Although no study has proved mobile phones are harmful, no study has proved the contrary either," he added. Officials from Dockers, which announced the launch of its new line in July, were not immediately available for comment. Worldwide studies into the possible dangers of mobile phones produce often conflicting conclusions.

A recent one carried out by Australian researchers over a three-year period showed that radio emissions from mobile phones did not trigger the growth of tumours in mice, and therefore probably did not do so in humans either.

That research followed another Australian study on mice five years ago that concluded cellular phones could foster tumour growth.

Swedish research published in August concluded that long-term users of first generation mobile phones faced an up to 80 percent greater risk of developing brain tumours than non-users and the World Health Organisation said last year more research was needed.