I’ve been following the stories about cell phones and cancer closely. It’s not that I use mine very often (in fact, I can rarely find it), and coverage is spotty in rural Vermont. No, I am thinking about all of my students who probably started using cell phones in the seventh grade, and do so heavily (can you say teenager and phones?) now as high school students. I also think of my young daughters, growing up quickly, and their many years of cell phone use when they are older (much, much older-).
So I read this article from the Toronto Star with great interest. Turns out there is a big study about cell phone use and a possible link with different types of brain cancers. This has been a long study backed by the World Health Organization, and its results should be finalized and reported any day now. It was supposed to be published back in 2006, and many scientists, citizens and corporations are anxiously awaiting the results.
Some other studies released in Europe have shown an increase in brain cancers from heavy cell phone use for over ten years. According to the Star:
“One 2007 research paper, co-authored by Finnish scientist Anna Lahkola, looked at glioma cases from studies conducted in five North European countries, including some data from Interphone. The paper found a significantly increased risk of developing glioma after cellphone use of more than 10 years.
A 2008 analysis, led by Swedish oncologist Dr. Lennart Hardell, looked at 10 European studies published between 2001 and 2007 – most of them country-specific studies from Interphone – and also found a heightened risk from long-term use. “We conclude that this meta-analysis gave a consistent pattern of an association between mobile phone use and ipsilateral glioma and acoustic neuroma,” after 10 years or more of use.
“Clearly, it’s time to take tumour risk very seriously,” said Slesin, adding that the results of the Lahkola study convinced him that such a risk could no longer be discounted. “
Those three paragraphs were enough to make me pause. Think about young people today on their cell phones, starting in their teens, through college, on to professional and family lives. 10, 20 years of heavy exposure. I’ll be watching and waiting for the WHO/Interphone study to be released. And I’m certainly not the only one.
For now? As a precaution, if I had a teenager with a cell phone I would buy her a headpiece, or try to limit her access to using a regular cell phone (I know, she’d love that–).