More on Cell Phones and Cancer

There have been two recent studies on the effects of cell phone use on our brains.

The first, and the one that has been widely reported,  has found an association between extended cell phone use and the metabolism of glucose in the brain. But then the researchers conclude with:

In healthy participants and compared with no exposure, 50-minute cell phone exposure was associated with increased brain glucose metabolism in the region closest to the antenna. This finding is of unknown clinical significance.

Emphasis mine. This means just that – they don’t have any idea whether this has any larger effect, negative or positive. Perhaps increased glucose metabolism makes us smarter. I don’t know.

The other study, which, as of yet, has not been so widely reported comes from the University of Manchester in England. the researchers looked at the rates of brain tumors in teh years between 1998 and 2007. What they found was a small increase, but certainly nothing suggesting a response nearly in proportion to the proliferation of cell phones.

the researchers say they would expect an increase in the number of diagnosed cases within five to 10 years of the introduction of mobile phones and for this increase to continue as mobile-phone use became more widespread. The 1998 to 2007 study period would therefore relate to the period 1990 to 2002 when mobile phone use in the UK increased from zero to 65% of households.

The team, which included researchers from the Institute of Occupational Medicine in Edinburgh and Drexel University, Philadelphia, found a small increase in the incidence of cancers in the temporal lobe of 0.6 cases per 100,000 people or 31 extra cases per year in a population of 52 million. Brain cancers of the parietal lobe, cerebrum and cerebellum in men actually fell slightly between 1998 and 2007.

They further put this potential effect into perspective:

if this specific rise in tumour incidence was caused by mobile phone use, it would contribute to less than one additional case per 100,000 population in a decade.

This is 1 in 1.2 million per year. Not much of an effect.  I have always felt that the fear mongering of attributing call phone use to cancer was a cause looking for an effect.

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