MUNICH/AMSTERDAM (Reuters) — Radio waves from mobile phones
harm body cells and damage DNA in laboratory conditions,
according to a new study majority-funded by the European
Union, researchers said on Monday. The so-called Reflex
study, conducted by 12 research groups in seven European
countries, did not prove that mobile phones are a risk to
health but concluded that more research is needed to see if
effects can also be found outside a lab.
The $100 billion a year mobile phone industry asserts that
there is no conclusive evidence of harmful effects as a
result of electromagnetic radiation.
About 650 million mobile phones are expected to be sold to
consumers this year, and over 1.5 billion people around the
world use one.
The research project, which took four years and which was
coordinated by the German research group Verum, studied the
effect of radiation on human and animal cells in a
After being exposed to electromagnetic fields that are
typical for mobile phones, the cells showed a significant
increase in single and double-strand DNA breaks. The damage
could not always be repaired by the cell. DNA carries the
genetic material of an organism and its different cells.
"There was remaining damage for future generation of cells,”
said project leader Franz Adlkofer. This means the change
had procreated. Mutated cells are seen as a possible cause
The radiation used in the study was at levels between a
Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) of between 0.3 and 2 watts
per kilogram. Most phones emit radio signals at SAR levels
of between 0.5 and 1 W/kg.
SAR is a measure of the rate of radio energy absorption in
body tissue, and the SAR limit recommended by the
International Commission of Non-Ionizing Radiation
Protection is 2 W/kg.
The study also measured other harmful effects on cells.
Because of the lab set-up, the researchers said the study
did not prove any health risks. But they added that “the
genotoxic and phenotypic effects clearly require further
studies ... on animals and human volunteers."
Adlkofer advised against the use of a mobile phone when an
alternative fixed line phone was available, and recommended
the use of a headset connected to a cellphone whenever
"We don't want to create a panic, but it is good to take
precautions,” he said, adding that additional research could
take another four or five years.
Previous independent studies into the health effects of
mobile phone radiation have found it may have some effect on
the human body, such as heating up body tissue and causing
headaches and nausea, but no study that could be
independently repeated has proved that radiation had
permanent harmful effects.
None of the world's top six mobile phone vendors could
immediately respond to the results of the study.
In a separate announcement in Hong Kong, where consumers
tend to spend more time talking on a mobile phone than in
Europe, a German company called G-Hanz introduced a new type
of mobile phone which it claimed had no harmful radiation,
as a result of shorter bursts of the radio signal.
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