Published: Tue, February 06, 2018
Industry | By Dora Warner

Studies offer no clear answers on health risks of cellphone use

Studies offer no clear answers on health risks of cellphone use

The two studies, one in rats and one in mice, looked at the effects of the type of radiation cellphones emit over the past ten years.

Results from the study indicated that the male rats which showed carcinogenic activity were exposed to a radiofrequency energy exposure rate "much higher" than the current standard, and that now FDA safety limits are set to include a 50-fold safety margin from observed effects of RF energy exposure, according to the FDA release.

Top researchers said the findings should not cause you to give up your cellphones. About 6 percent of the rats exposed to the highest level of radiation studied developed schwannomas in their hearts, whereas there was no evidence of schwannomas in a group of rats that were not exposed to radiation, according to John Bucher, a senior scientist at the NTP.

The 10-year, $25 million toxicological studies are the most comprehensive assessments to date of health effects and exposure to radio frequency radiation in rats and mice, according to the online notice from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, a unit of the National Institutes of Health, the US medical research agency.

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The rat study released Friday found a small increase in an unusual type of a heart tumour in male rats, but there were no significant problems in female rats or in a separate study of mice. Bucher's agency conducted the $25 million study at the behest of the Food and Drug Administration, which quickly said cellphones are safe. "The reports don't go much further than what we have reported earlier".

Brawley said if cellphone users are concerned about this data in animals they should wear an earpiece. It's true that cell phones do emit radiation.

The new NIH study showed tumors in rats and mice in other parts of the body - the brain, prostate, liver and pancreas - but the scientists said it was unclear if these were related to the radiation. From the FDA's understanding of the NTP results, male rats that showed carcinogenic activity were exposed to a radiofrequency energy exposure rate that is much higher than the current safety standard.

He said the findings are meant to help inform the design of future cell phone technologies.

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For people who worry about the risk, health officials offer common-sense advice: Spend less time on cellphones, use a headset or speaker mode so that the phone is not pressed up against the head, and avoid trying to make calls if the signal is weak. It does not apply to 4G or 5G, which use different frequencies and modulation, he said.

The new reports are still considered drafts, and the NTP plans to have outside experts review them next month.

The FDA concluded, once again, that taking into account all the available scientific evidence there is no link between cell phone usage and adverse effects on human health.

Dr. Jeffrey Shuren, director of the F.D.A.'s center for devices and radiological health, said, "Even with frequent daily use by the vast majority of adults, we have not seen an increase in events like brain tumors". "Based on this current information, we believe the current safety limits for cell phones are acceptable for protecting the public health".

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