Mobile phones: 'Still no evidence of harm to health'

Woman using mobile phone There are 80 million mobile phones in the UK

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There is still no evidence mobile phones harm human health, says a major safety review for the UK's Health Protection Agency (HPA).

Scientists looked at hundreds of studies of mobile exposure and found no conclusive links to cancer risk, brain function or infertility.

However, they said monitoring should continue because little was known about long-term effects.

The HPA said children should still avoid excessive use of mobiles.

It is the biggest ever review of the evidence surrounding the safety of mobile phones.

There are now an estimated 80 million mobiles in the UK, and because of TV and radio broadcasting, Wi-Fi, and other technological developments, the study said exposure to low-level radio frequency fields was almost universal and continuous.

A group of experts working for the HPA looked at all significant research into the effects of low-level radio frequency.

'Relatively reassuring'

They concluded that people who were not exposed above UK guideline levels did not experience any detectable symptoms.

That included people who reported being sensitive to radio frequency.

They also said there was no evidence that exposure caused brain tumours, other types of cancer, or harm to fertility or cardiovascular health.

But they said very little was known about risks beyond 15 years, because most people did not use mobile phones until the late 1990s.

Prof Anthony Swerdlow, who chaired the review group, said it was important to continue monitoring research.

"Even though it's relatively reassuring, I also think it's important that we keep an eye on the rates of brain tumours and other cancers," he said.

"One can't know what the long-term consequences are of something that has been around for only a short period."

There has been speculation about the health effects of using mobile phones for years.

The HPA conducted a previous review in 2003, which also concluded that there was no evidence of harm. But there is now far more research into the subject.

Advice on children

The experts said more work was needed on the effect of radio frequency fields on brain activity, and on the possible association with behavioural problems in children.

They also called for more investigation into the effects of new technology which emits radio frequency, such as smart meters in homes and airport security scanners.

The HPA said it was not changing its advice about mobile phone use by children.

"As this is a relatively new technology, the HPA will continue to advise a precautionary approach," said Dr John Cooper, director of the HPA's centre for radiation, chemical and environmental hazards.

"The HPA recommends that excessive use of mobile phones by children should be discouraged."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 377.

    cell phones have become such a necessity to everyday life and operations that I think we'll be using it even if there are after-effects. I personally don't think there are any major effects from cell phones and there will be even less of them s technology evolves. I think we're fine :)

  • rate this

    Comment number 376.

    'In 2000, Dr. Gerard Hyland, a physicist from the U.K. published an article in the prestigious medical journal the Lancet, titled, “Physics and biology of mobile telephony.” Dr. Hyland’s paper is an excellent summary of why we should be concerned about cell phone use (& cell phone towers), and where research should be pointed. Some of the research has been done since then, but much has not.'

  • rate this

    Comment number 291.

    I wonder how many lives have been saved by mobile phones? They allow an immediate and instant connection to emergency services, in all but the most isolated of areas. Considering that there's not a single person reported to have died due to the effects of mobile phone radiation, I'd say it's a "risk" worth taking.

  • rate this

    Comment number 270.

    Living is a risky business. Going down the mines was detrimental to the miners' lives, but it provided the country with fuel (albeit fossil fuel) and employment for the miners. We feel the need to be in touch (instantly) with one another, so we take the risks. Evidence or no evidence, I find my mobile beneficial and would not be without it, even though it is just a bog standard version.

  • rate this

    Comment number 213.

    No suprise there then, far too much money involved exactly the same with cigarettes where harm was denied for years. Rmember the report will always reflect the wishes of those who commission it otherwise why commission it. There is no such thing as an independant report as someone has to fund it therefore influencing its outcome.


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