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Brain cancer fears over heavy mobile use
Australian News
By: Asher Moses
03/31/08

A top Australian neurosurgeon says the world's heavy reliance on mobile phones could be a greater threat to human health than smoking and even asbestos.

Vini Khurana, who conducted a 15-month "critical review" of the link between mobile phones and malignant brain tumours, said using mobiles for more than 10 years could more than double the risk of brain cancer. He has called for "immediate and decisive steps" by industry and governments to reduce people's exposure to invisible electromagnetic radiation emitted by handsets. Dr Khurana also called for a "solid scientific study" observing heavy mobile phone users for a period of at least 10-15 years.

"It is anticipated that this danger has far broader public health ramifications than asbestos and smoking, and directly concerns all of us, particularly the younger generation, including very young children," Dr Khurana said in a research paper published on the website brain-surgery.us. In a phone interview Khurana clarified the statement, saying he was not implying smoking was better for people than using mobile phones, but mobile-phone related health issues affected a far greater number of people. He said there were currently 3 billion mobile phone users worldwide, a number that is growing daily, and people started using them as young as three.

He said mobile phone radiation could heat the side of the head or potentially thermoelectrically interact with the brain, while Bluetooth devices and "unshielded" headsets could "convert the user's head into an effective, potentially self-harming antenna".

Dr Khurana, who is a staff specialist neurosurgeon at the Canberra Hospital and an associate professor of neurosurgery at the Australian National University, said there had been increased reports of brain tumours associated with heavy and prolonged mobile phone use, particularly on the same side as the person's "preferred ear" for making calls.

Chris Althaus, chief executive of the industry body, the Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association, rejected Dr Khurana's conclusions, saying handsets were designed, built and tested to comply with strict science-based guidelines.