US Study on Cellphone Radiation Won't Settle Debate

Feb 04, 2018, 02:09
US Study on Cellphone Radiation Won't Settle Debate

When the NTP released an interim report in 2016, scientists said tumors observed up to that point were "likely related" to cell phone radiofrequency radiation exposures but they had more confidence in the association for the malignant schwannomas and the brain tumors. But the radiofrequency radiation from a cellphone doesn't work that way - and today's results support that.

Although intriguing, the findings cannot be extrapolated to humans, NTP scientists and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said on Friday.

A comprehensive study of exposure to the radiation emitted by mobile phones found an increased risk of a rare tumour in some rodents, although the scientist in charge cautioned against drawing conclusions about the impact on humans. Separate reports of studies involving rats and mice are available on the NTP website.

To find out whether there's any connection between cell phones and cancer researchers from the National Institutes of Health's National Toxicology Program exposed rats and mice to high levels of radiofrequency radiation, nine hours a day for more than two years. The schwannoma evidence is "the strongest cancer finding in our study", said Bucher.

'Of course, these were in the nerves in the ear and next to the brain, but the tumor types were the same as we saw in the heart'. Otis Brawley, the American Cancer Society's chief medical officer, agreed in an interview with The Associated Press.

"I haven't changed the way I use a cellphone", Bucher said on a call with reporters.

Previous studies of cellphone users had found little reason for concern, but the newest research took a closer look at the effects of super-high doses in animals to address some lingering questions that could not be tested on humans. ("A rat that is 2 years old is roughly equivalent to a 70-year-old person", STAT News reports.) These exposure levels were much higher than what people would experience, John Bucher, senior scientist with the NTP, says in a statement. On the other hand, the female rats were exposed to the same radiation but they did not develop any tumor.

Cellphones typically emit lower levels of radiation than maximum levels allowed, the draft report said.

Bucher said NTP scientists will continue to evaluate data from the study, including studies of the effects of cell phone radiofrequency radiation on different types of tissue and DNA.

Notably, these studies were done using 2G and 3G frequencies and not the high-speed and advanced 4G and 5G networks.

"Even with frequent daily use by the vast majority of adults, we have not seen an increase in events like brain tumors". 'We believe the current safety limits for cellphones are acceptable for protecting the public health'.

Bucher briefly reviewed the study design.

Nevertheless, the findings are potentially a concern for device makers, especially the world's three biggest smartphone sellers, Apple Inc, Korea's Samsung Electronics Co Ltd and China's Huawei Technologies. Female rats and mice didn't get the same tumours, the studies showed.

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