Recent research suggests, however, that although short-term exposure is harmless, long-term cell phone use may be a different story. Three studies since 1999 indicate that people who have used cell phones for more than a decade may have as much as three times greater risk of developing brain tumors on the side of the head against which they most often hold their phone—an argument for, at the least, shifting ears regularly or, even better, using an earpiece or the speakerphone feature while chatting.
“For people who’ve used their cell phones for more than 10 years and who use their phone on the same side as the tumor, it appears there’s an association,” Lawrie Challis, emeritus physics professor at the University of Nottingham in England and former chairman of the U.K.’s Mobile Telecommunications and Health Research program, told ScientificAmerican.com during a recent interview.
Worldwide, one in 29,000 men and one in 38,000 women on average develop brain tumors each year, with people in industrial nations twice as likely as those in developing countries to be diagnosed with one, according to the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in Lyon, France. If cell phone use does, in fact, triple the odds of getting cancer, these stats would suggest that over 60 years a man’s risk of developing a brain tumor from cell phone use increases from 0.206 percent to 0.621 percent, and a woman’s from 0.156 percent to 0.468 percent.
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