Long Term Study Finds No Link between Cellphones and Cancer

by Jeff Wiener on February 18, 2014

Mobile phones do not cause cancer, an 11-year study in the UK by independent research group MTHR recently reported. While it’s safe to say that such findings are still far from solving the ever-present medical controversy between cellphone radiation and adverse health issues, it is the first time we’re really seeing the result of long term studies, and such findings may help a few cellphone users to breathe a little easier…not to mention a few cellphone manufacturers.

The research, conducted between 2001 and 2012 but only now released, was published in the second Mobile Telecommunications and Health Report (PDF), and found that cellphone radiation fundamentally had no measurable “biological or adverse health effects”. The MTHR’s research focused on not only the impact of mobile radiation on the human body, but also on the “emissions from macrocell mobile base stations.”

In regards to the latter, the study “found no evidence that exposure to base station emissions during pregnancy affects the risk of developing cancer in early childhood, and no evidence that use of mobile phones leads to an increased risk of leukaemia”. Simply put, if cellphone radiation is harmful to humans such findings did not reveal themselves in this study. But while such findings are a rare positive voice in this debate, there’s no question that more work still needs to be done.

Briefly, for this report 800 people diagnosed with leukemia between 2003 and 2009 were interviewed regarding their mobile phone usage and other cancer risk factors. Further, the study examined 1,400 cases of childhood cancer to asses their mothers’ exposure to mobile radiation from nearby base stations. In either case, the radiation from mobile devices or the mobile network were found to be statistically irrelevant to the development of the cancer.

The report did mention that there was a hint of increased risk of acute myeloid leukaemia associated with long term mobile usage, but likely that such findings were an anomaly due to the generally short latency period of that sort of cancer (i.e. long term phone use probably doesn’t case rapid growth cancers).

As the report concludes, “The study found no association between regular use of a mobile phone and the risk of leukaemia. There was also no evidence of a trend of increasing risk with the time since a mobile phone was first used, total years of use, cumulative number of calls or cumulative hours of use.”

The strange thing about such scientific studies, at least for me, is that they never seem to prove or disprove anything. Sure there is some research that may suggest a particular course of action or a particular conclusion, but you’ll always find a counter-study that disproves those results or enough grey area within the results themselves to warrant the argument that further investigation is required.

In fact, even studies by the World Health Organization into possible connections between cellular radiation and brain cancer were inconclusive, finding nothing statistically relevant in cases of moderate cellphone use and increased risk of cancer.

But what has always concerned me is not ‘regular’ cellphone use, as the report says, but overly high cellphone use, which is truly becoming the norm these days anyhow. It’s sad to say that for those who have their phone glued to their ear the jury is still out, which means, as always, that further investigation is indeed required.

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