British research that found no link between pregnant women's exposure to cellphone tower radio-frequency and early childhood cancer should end public debate on the issue, a New Zealand medical expert says.

Occupational and environmental medicine specialist David Black said the study - the largest of its kind and published in the British Medical Journal this week - would finally clarify the issue, which had caused public debate both in New Zealand and abroad.

"It is also pleasing to see that it doesn't end in 'more research is needed', because it's clearly not," Dr Black said.

The study was carried out by researchers from the School of Public Health at Imperial College London and analysed data from 1397 children, aged up to 4-years-old, who had cancer and compared them with 5588 children without cancer.

They determined where the mothers had lived at the time of their birth, and how near it was to a mobile phone tower, finding children whose mothers had lived closer to towers had no added risk of developing cancer.

Fears that "tiny amounts of radio-frequency energy" could affect unborn children were based on "poor scientific literacy" and the hypothesis was always unlikely, Dr Black said.

"It is time to regard this matter as settled and apply scarce public health research funding to real issues where there is at least prima facie evidence of an actual problem." Senior adviser at the National Radiation Laboratory based in Christchurch, Martin Gledhill, agreed with Dr Black's assessment and said the study was a great improvement on previous studies which were too small to make conclusions.

"This new study supports the widely held view that exposures which comply with current exposure limits - and especially exposures at the levels typically found in the urban and rural environment - do not cause cancer," he said.

- NZPA, INDEPENDENT

CONCLUSIONS
* Research found there is no link between pregnant women's exposure to cellphone tower radio-frequency and early childhood cancer
* Data from 1397 children who had cancer and 5588 who didn't was compared
* Children whose mothers had lived closer to towers had no added risk of developing cancer.