The GSMA’s Rowley estimated that more than $100 million had been spent so far around the world on research into health risks from mobile phone usage. Global spending on wireless equipment and services provided by companies such as Nokia, Ericsson and Huawei surpassed $1 trillion for the first time in 2009, according to technology research firm iSuppli.
The COSMOS study is recruiting participants aged 18-69 in Britain, Finland, the Netherlands, Sweden and Denmark through mobile carriers. It will use data from volunteers’ phone bills and health records as well as questionnaires.
Rowley, while welcoming the planned study, said organizers might have trouble finding enough volunteers, citing a previous attempt to carry out a similar study on a smaller scale in Germany in 2004, which foundered on privacy concerns.
In Britain, COSMOS is inviting 2.4 million mobile phone users to take part, through the country’s four top carriers: Vodafone, O2, T-Mobile and Orange. It hopes 90,000-100,000 will agree.
By late Thursday afternoon, 232 had signed up.
The study will examine all health developments and look for links to neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s as well as cancer. It will also take account of how users carry their phone — for example in a trouser or chest pocket or in a bag — and whether they use hand-free kits.
A spokesman for Britain’s Health Protection Agency, an independent public body, said the study had the potential to give very reliable results.
“The Department of Epidemiology and Public Health at Imperial College is one of the best research centers in the world for this type of study,” he said.
COSMOS will announce its findings as it progresses.
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