Children Affected by Cell Phone Radiation

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A study of 110 adults at the Australian Centre for Radiofrequency Bioeffects Research, partly funded by the Federal Government, confirmed mobile phones cause a change in brain function by altering brainwaves known as alpha waves.

The centre, at Melbourne’s Swinburne University of Technology, is now investigating the effect on 40 children aged 12 to 13, and 20 people aged 55 to 75 years. Associate Professor Rodney Croft, from the centre, said while studies had been conducted on adults, the effect on children had, until now, remained untested. “Although there’s a tiny effect on healthy young adults, there is a possibility that it could be much stronger in children or the elderly,” Professor Rodney Croft said.

There was no indication from the adult tests if the effect on health was positive or negative.
Scientists worldwide agree there is no evidence linking electromagnetic radiation emitted by mobile phones to adverse health effects, but claims that frequent use can cause headaches, nausea, problems with concentration, cancer and brain tumours still persist.

The new Australian study comes as France’s health ministry warned parents to prevent children using mobiles when reception is poor or during high-speed travel.

Authorities in France advised limiting the use of mobiles overall. Last week the National Research Council of US called for more studies into the possible health hazards of wireless devices and base stations on children, unborn babies and pregnant women.

Researchers fear children may be more vulnerable because the exposure dose received by a child’s brain is higher than an adult’s and their nervous system is still developing.

With one in four Australians aged six to 13 now having a mobile phone, children will also be exposed to radiation for longer than their parents. http://www.impactlab.net/2008/01/26/children-affected-by-cell-phone-radiation/

A British study noted many cancers take 10 to 15 years to appear, and most testing so far had included few participants who had used mobile phones for longer than a decade.

Professor Croft said Australian studies using unborn or newborn mice had failed to find significant changes in growth rate, brain function and behavioural development.

The professor of public health at the University of Sydney, Bruce Armstrong, said the French decision against excessive use by children was prudent. “We don’t know that use of mobile phones causes harm to children but we don’t know with certainty that it is safe in all circumstances,” he said.

A spokesman for federal Health Minister Nicola Roxon said: “We have no plans to restrict usage at this point. Of course we monitor any developments in medical research as a matter of course.”

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Are You Willing to Take the Risk?

When a six-year Mobile Telecommunications and Health Research (MTHR) study commissioned by the government and the mobile phone industry – the largest such study in the UK – found mobiles to harmless, only admitting a ‘very faint hint’ of a link between long-term mobile use and brain tumours, it was criticised for failing to fully investigate those people who had used their phones for over a decade.

More recently, a group of scientists found there to be a much stronger link between mobile use and risk of brain tumour than the report suggested. After surveying the results of 11 different studies, the scientists concluded that those who have used their mobile for a decade are twice as likely to develop a tumour on a nerve linking the ear to the brain.
There may not yet be a definite answer to the question of mobile phone health risks, but with many experts nevertheless inclined to support the theory that there are long-term dangers, are you willing to take the chance they are wrong?

Risking the Health of Your Children

Perhaps an even more pertinent question is, are you willing to risk the health of your children by allowing them to use mobiles? This is an even more worrying concern because research has shown that, as children have thinner skulls and nervous systems that are still developing, they are three times as vulnerable to radiation as adults. A professor at Orbero University in Sweden, who conducted research into the subject, said that children should not be allowed to use mobiles.

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Industry response

The FCC’s 1.6 watt per kilogram level for damage to tissue is set up as a threshold, meaning that any levels below it, whether 0.1 or 1.5, are supposed to be equivalently safe.

Accordingly, groups that represent cell phone makers say that pitting one phone against another safety-wise based on SAR is a false choice.

“Rather than inform, the ordinance will potentially mislead consumers with point of sale requirements suggesting that some phones are ‘safer’ than others based on radiofrequency emissions,” said John Walls, vice president of public affairs for the Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association, in a statement.

Generally, no manufacturer or particular kind of cell phone tends to produce more radiation than competitors or other devices, Naidenko said.

In other words, an advanced, features-laden smartphone such as the Apple iPhone can (and does) emit fewer radio waves than a basic budget cell phone, like a Nokia Surge. (The SAR level of the iPhone 3GS is 0.24 to 1.03 watts per kilogram and the Surge’s is 1.31 watts per kilogram. The iPhone 4 SAR is not yet publicly available.)

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Mobile phones and mobile phone masts are being blamed for all manner of serious health problems but is it just groundless scaremongering or can mobiles really damage your health?

The Damage to Your Health

By regularly speaking on your mobile phone you are putting yourself at risk of a brain tumour, leukaemia, as well as severe headaches, memory loss, extreme fatigue and a catalogue of other complaints. If you try to avoid it by opting for hands-free then mobile in your belt case will expose your liver and kidney areas to harmful radiation. At least this is if you believe the various studies that have been conducted over the last decade.

As people slowly wean themselves off last century’s major threat to the nation’s health, the cigarette, many believe millions of us are already dangerously addicted the 21st century equivalent – the mobile phone.

It is believed that low-level exposure to the radio frequency (RF) waves emitted by mobiles when holding the phone close to the head, or by local mobile phone masts, may cause biological problems and even seriously harm the brain. But if that’s the case, where are the health warnings, where is the massive health crisis, why are mobiles as possible as ever – isn’t anybody worried?

No Evidence for Health Risks

The truth of the matter is that despite the regular stream of news stories, there is yet to be concrete proof that mobiles are unsafe. Well known for their cynicism and suspicion of hype and scaremongering, Brits are waiting for some direct evidence before they are convinced.

The problem faced by scientists is that it is currently hard to research the danger of mobiles because as the technology is relatively new, the effects might have yet to surface. For instance it takes a minimum of 10 years for cancer to develop. http://www.mobilephonesandsafety.co.uk/can-mobiles-really-damage-your-health.html

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Other scientists pointed out that cell division occurred naturally as tissue grew or rejuvenated within the body, and that the preliminary study did not prove any health effects.

Simon Cook, a biochemist at the Babraham Institute near Cambridge, said: “The reason people are intrigued is that this pathway is frequently activated in cancer.

“The research is certainly interesting. However, they saw a very transient activation of this pathway, which we know is not sufficient to promote cell division.

“In cancer you see a much stronger, persistent and sustained activation and even this is just one of many changes required for cancer development.”

Simon Arthur, from the University of Dundee, said: “The ERK1/2 pathway can be turned on by a huge variety of different things such as natural compounds produced by the body that regulate cell growth, and various forms of environmental and chemical stress.

“The research shows the effect on cells in culture in tightly-controlled laboratory conditions. In a living person there are lots of different processes occurring at the same time, so we do not know whether the signal from radio waves would produce a similar measureable effect.”

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The most comprehensive assessment to date, the 10-year Interphone study published last month under the auspices of the World Health Organization, found contradictory results that even the study authors admitted were puzzling.
The multi-country study found that while the longest-term cell phone users had slightly elevated risks of brain cancers, lower-use people actually had fewer cancers, as though cell phones had inexplicably protected them from harm. New long-term studies are getting underway in Europe in an attempt to provide better, clearer answers.

“The science is not really settled,” said Naidenko. “What we are talking about is precautionary action at this moment.”
Cell phone makers must submit SAR levels for their products sold in the United States to the FCC, which regulates emissions of electronic devices. Phones cannot emit radiation in excess of 1.6 watts per kilogram averaged over a volume of one gram of tissue. This FCC threshold, adopted in 1996, is based on animal studies and human occupational exposure data, Naidenko said.

Not surprisingly, manufacturers tend not to include SARs on printed material that comes with phones, nor are SARs openly advertised. However, consumers can look up SAR levels on the FCC’s Web site.

But to do so, consumers need the phone’s FCC identification number. Because this number appears on a phone’s case often under a battery pack, it is not something that non-owners tend to have access to, Naidenko said.
By bringing such public, but buried information to light in one place on the EWG chart, Naidenko said that now “people don’t have to wonder about the radiation level of a phone before they buy it.”

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Different Results Every Five Years

The data from the first five years should provide good information about the cost of mobile phones in terms of minor symptoms and quality of life. It will answer once and for all whether using a mobile phone for long periods causes headaches, dizziness, tinnitus and any other symptoms including depression.

The results obtained at the end of the first 10 year period of research should reveal whether using a mobile phone is linked with any common cancers – there should be enough cases in the number of people being studied in that time to make a statistically valid assessment.

Over the following five years, the data should show whether mobile phone use is associated with rarer cancers, such as specific ear or brain tumours, and whether using a mobile is a risk factor that makes it more likely that you will develop Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis or other degenerative diseases that affect the brain or central nervous system.

Are Younger People at Risk from Mobile Phones?

One main question that the study will seek to answer is if mobile phones are generally safe but pose a particular risk for children. Children as young as 3 or 4 get mobile phones these days and their brains are still making connections and their neural pathways may be damaged by the radiation given out by mobiles. For the time being, until the results are obtained, most experts still recommend that mobiles are not used at all by children under 11. It is encouraging that teenagers are opting for touch phones now that they are available and spend more time texting and surfing on the phone that using it pressed to their ears.

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Prof Rony Seger, a cancer researcher at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel, and colleagues exposed rat and human cells to electromagnetic radiation at a similar frequency to that emitted by mobiles but at only about one tenth of the power.

After just five minutes the researchers identified the production of extracellular signal-regulated kinases (ERK1/2) – natural chemicals that stimulate cell division and growth.

Cancers develop when the body is unable to prevent excessive growth and division of cells in the wrong place.
Prof Seger said yesterday: “The real significance of our findings is that cells are not inert to non-thermal mobile phone radiation.

“We used radiation power levels that were around one tenth of those produced by a normal mobile. The changes we observed were clearly not caused by heating.”

The UK has adopted international safety standards for electromagnetic radiation. These state that the amount of energy absorbed from an electric field or radio wave cannot exceed two watts per kilogram (W/kg) when averaged over 10 grams of tissue. Almost all mobile phones emit less that than one W/kg.

Graham Philips, of Powerwatch, a lobby group that campaigns on mobile phones, masts and powerlines, said: “Current safety guidelines assume health effects from mobiles can occur only when significant heating of body tissue occurs.
“This study shows biological changes in response to low-level mobile phone radiation – something that could have implications for health. Further research is required. However, guidance based purely on thermal effects is clearly out of date.”

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The truth about the risk of cancer that might come from using a mobile phone regularly is proving very elusive. Many different reports have appeared over the last few years, some of them claiming there is a definite link, others refuting those claims and saying that the use of a mobile phone does not lead to heightened cancer risk no matter how often you use it.

The difficulty is that data on a huge number of people are needed to establish whether there is a link or not, and the research needs to be done over several years. Cancer takes a long time to form, and may be diagnosed years after exposure to the environmental risk factors that cause it. Using a mobile phone could cause cancers that don’t appear for 15 or 20 years later – and mobile phones just haven’t been around that long yet.

New Mobile Phone Risk Study

As so many people do now use mobile phones, in the developing world as well as in the industrialised world, we have to find some sort of answer to this question. If mobile phones are linked with a higher risk of brain cancer, it may become necessary to change their design so that the risk is reduced. At the very least, people should be aware that they are taking such a risk.In late April 2010, a new study was launched that should provide all the answers – but the results will not be available for years yet. In total, the period that the study covers could extend over the next 30 years, although some interim results will become available before that.

The Scope of the Mobile Phone Risk Study

The new study will cost millions and is going to include around quarter of a million people in 5 different countries. About 100 000 of them will be from the UK and other people from Denmark, Sweden, Finland and the Netherlands will also be recruited. Each person in the study will give their permission for their mobile phone records to be taken and stored, and they will provide regular updates on their health, including symptoms such as headaches, and the number of cases of different cancer that arise will be recorded over time.

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While the United Kingdom’s Independent newspaper described Khurana’s study as “the most devastating indictment yet published of the health risks” of mobile phones, his warning is not the first. A Swedish study in 2006 concluded that people who used mobile phones for an hour or more each day had a 240 percent higher brain tumor risk than non-users. Tumors were significantly more likely to develop on the side of the head where the phone was most often used.

Inspired in part by such studies, France has warned against mobile phone use (especially in children), Germany urges people to minimize their use of mobile handsets, and the European Environment Agency has called for minimizing exposure to cellular radiation.

The mechanisms by which mobile phones increase cancer risk are not well understood, but several possibilities are suspected. Electromagnetic radiation (EMR) is known to directly heat up the head and brain, and can also cause thermoelectric effects on cells and DNA. According to Khurana, even bluetooth devices and unshielded headsets merely turn the head into an antenna that bombards itself with radiation. Children, with thinner skulls than adults, are particularly at risk.

“EMR rays in general cause irritation, concentration lapses and in many cases even proliferation of cells which cause cancer,” said Dr Rajeev Ranjan, a New Delhi neurologist. Radiation can also interfere with the functioning of medical devices like pacemakers.

EMR also “affect[s] the DNA and cause[s] problems in cell recovery and cell growth,” said New Delhi neurologist Anshu Rohatgi.

Khurana warned that if immediate measures are not taken, mobile phones will soon be responsible for a massive public health crisis.
“We are currently experiencing a reactively unchecked and dangerous situation,” he said.

Because mobile phone use began in the mid-1980s and it can take up to 20 years to diagnose a malignant solid brain tumor, he said, “In the years 2008-2012, we will have reached the appropriate length of follow-up time to begin to definitively observe the impact of this global technology on brain tumor incidence rates.”

“Malignant brain tumor incidence and its associated death rate will be observed globally to rise within a decade from now,” Khurana said, “by which time it may be far too late to meaningfully intervene.”

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