Editorial: Cell phones and cancer
01:00 AM EDT on Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Does using cell phones cause cancer? There is increasing evidence of an association between
carcinomas and these devices, which, let’s face it, many of us use too much. A highly useful
summary of recent findings on cell-phone use in the Aug. 8 The Week magazine (a superb
weekly survey of news from around the world) has added to the anxiety about cell phones.
While early studies have found few indications that heavy cell-phone use can cause serious
health issues (except, in some people, psychiatric and emotional ones), the effects of long-term
use are only now becoming clearer. Early studies only covered use over several years, not a
decade or more. And after all, these things have only been in really wide-scale use for about a
decade in the U.S. and a bit longer abroad. (In some Third World nations, for better or for worse,
cell phones now are the main telecommunications system.)
Nor did early studies focus on the effects on young people, with their still developing brains, and
thinner skulls, and thus less protection from cell phones’ electromagnetic radiation than adults
might have. Of course, teens these days spend much of their lives on cell phones.
The Week discusses:
Israeli data showing a 50-percent higher risk among heavy cell-phone users • for cancer of a
A Swedish study showing a doubling of risk for a tumor that affects the • area where the ear
meets the brain after 10 years of heavy use.
An analysis by a Swedish oncologist of 10 European studies finding a • “consistent pattern of
association” between certain brain tumors and long-term cell-phone use.
Finnish researchers looking at brain-cancer studies in five northern • European nations finding
“a significantly increased” risk of brain cancers after cell-phone use of more than a decade.
The University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute warning faculty and staff to • curb use because of
a “growing body of literature” linking cell-phon