Published: Mon, February 05, 2018
Medical | By Josefina Yates

Government research shows link between cell phone radiation and tumors in rats

Government research shows link between cell phone radiation and tumors in rats

The National Toxicology Program's reports were based on two studies, one conducted on mice, and one conducted on rats.

Safety questions about cellphones have drawn intense interest and debate for years as the devices have become integral to most people's lives.

Although intriguing, the findings cannot be extrapolated to humans, NTP scientists and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said on Friday.

Two long-awaited studies of how cell phone radiation affects the health of mice and rats, released yesterday, are giving scientists plenty to think about - but the findings won't resolve the decades-old uncertainty surrounding the issue.

The 10-year, US$25m toxicological studies are the most comprehensive assessments to date of health effects and exposure to radio frequency radiation in rats and mice, according to the online notice from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, a unit of the National Institutes of Health, the USA medical research agency.

In male rats, the studies linked tumours in the heart to high exposure to radiation from the phones. Known as malignant schwannomas, they were similar to brain tumours reported in some studies of... "The reports don't go much further than what we have reported earlier".

Brawley said if cellphone users are concerned about this data in animals they should wear an earpiece. Similarly, the researchers observed non-cancerous health effects - including lower birth weights, evidence of DNA damage, and heart conditions - among exposed rats, although it was not always clear if the conditions were caused by radiation exposure.

Cellphone radiation quickly dissipates, so the risk, if any, would be to areas of the body in close proximity to the device emitting the radiation, Bucher said.

The new findings are "incredibly important", says David Carpenter, a public health physician at the University of Albany, New York, who has long warned of cell phone dangers. It does not apply to 4G or 5G, which use different frequencies and modulation, he said.

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Meanwhile, external experts are scheduled to review the new NTP studies at a meeting in late March.

Dr. Jeffrey Shuren, head of the FDA's radiological health division, said there is not enough evidence to say cellphone use poses health risks to people.

Some studies have found limited evidence of an increased risk of cancer from mobile phone use, according to the online notice from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.

The findings don't suggest that USA regulations on cellphone radiation need to be tightened, said Jeffrey Shuren, director of the FDA's Center for Devices and Radiological Health, in a statement.

"I haven't changed the way I use a cellphone", Bucher said on a call with reporters.

Nevertheless, the findings are potentially a concern for device makers, especially the world's three biggest smartphone sellers, Inc, Korea's Electronics Co Ltd and China's Technologies.

CTIA, the trade association for wireless carriers including AT&T and Verizon Communications, said it follows expert guidance on health effects.

If there's any lingering concern about possible cancer risks, the government researchers themselves say they have not changed their own cell phone habits.

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