Rebecca Quilliam

Rebecca Quilliam is senior reporter at the APNZ News Service office in Wellington.

Cellphone cancer fear quashed - report

You can rest easy using your cell phone as cancer fears are quashed by experts.
Photo / Thinkstock
You can rest easy using your cell phone as cancer fears are quashed by experts. Photo / Thinkstock

A new international report that scuttles any suggestion that cellphone use can cause cancer has been backed by a technology health and safety expert, but he warns it probably won't change minds of sceptics.

The report, by Britain's Mobile Telecommunications and Health Research (MTHR) programme found no evidence of biological or adverse health effects of cellphone use.

Produced by Public Health England, the report found no evidence that exposure to base station emissions during pregnancy affected the risk of developing cancer in early childhood, and no evidence that use of mobile phones led to an increased risk of leukaemia.

Over a period of 11 years the programme had supported 31 individual research projects that between them had resulted in nearly 60 papers in peer-reviewed scientific journals.

READ THE FULL REPORT ONLINE HERE

New Zealand health and safety of electromagnetic fields consultant Martin Gledhill said it supported findings of different health groups worldwide that had reviewed the research in the area over the last few years and generally did not find any problems.

"You can have a bit of faith that what they found will stand up to scrutiny."

But there would always be some studies that contradicted the results, Mr Gledhill said.

"That's why I think research programmes like this are useful because of the quality of the data that they produce.

"It should put people's minds at ease, but the other side of it is...that once people have sort of got a little bit unsettled about something it can be quite difficult to change their mind about it."

MTHR chairman Professor David Coggon said when the programme was set up there were many "scientific uncertainties" about the possible health risks from cellphone use.

"Thanks to the research conducted within the programme, we can now be much more confident about the safety of modern telecommunications systems."

The 13.6 million-pound (NZ$26.9 million) MTHR programme was jointly funded by the British Government and its telecommunications industry.

Professor Coggon said the programme had been overseen by an independent Programme Management Committee (PMC), to ensure that none of the funding bodies could influence the outcomes of the research.

Research released last year from Spain found a link between cellphone use and an increased risk of malignant brain tumours.

The research, titled Case-control study of the association between malignant brain tumours diagnosed between 2007 and 2009 and mobile and cordless phone use, was published in September in the International Journal of Oncology.

"The main result of this study was a statistically significant increased risk for malignant brain tumours associated with use of wireless phones," the research said.

- APNZ

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