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Meta-Analysis Shows Increased Risk of Tumors for Cell Phone Users

10 months, 2 weeks ago

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Posted on Jul 12, 2021, 7 p.m.

A comprehensive meta-analysis of 46 case-control studies conducted by researchers at the  UC Berkeley School of Public Health, Korea’s National Cancer Center, and Seoul National University found evidence that heavier cell phone use is associated with an increased risk of tumors, primarily brain tumors.

According to the analysis published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, the use of a cell phone for more than 1,000 hours—or about 17 minutes a day for a decade—significantly increased the risk of tumors(by 60%). In the individual studies that were analyzed, individuals who used cell phones for over a decade had a slightly elevated overall tumor risk over those who had used cell phones for less than 5 years.

“Cell phone use highlights a host of public health issues and it has received little attention in the scientific community, unfortunately,” said Joel Moskowitz, Ph.D., lead author of a paper on the analysis and director of the Center for Family and Community Health at Berkeley Public Health. “I’ve been writing and researching the risk of cell phone radiation from cell phones and cell towers since 2009, and as soon as those stories went public in the media I was contacted from survivors of cell phone radiation begging me to stay on this topic.”

This current meta-analysis is an update to a 2009 meta-analysis and includes studies that have been conducted during the past decade. Moskowitz emphasized that these studies have been controversial as it is a highly sensitive political topic with significant economic ramifications for a powerful industry.

The researchers also pointed to findings that showed cell phone use for 10 or more years doubled the risk of brain tumors. Recent figures from the Pew Research Center showed that 97% of Americans now own a cell phone of some kind. Cell phone usage has become increasingly popular, in fact, figures from the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics found 61.8% of adults have decided to go wireless-only. 

With the increased use of mobile devices, the research has been vast on their potential link to cancer. The findings have varied and at times been controversial. 

Many studies looking into the health risks of cell phone use have been funded or partially funded by the cellular phone industry, which critics argue can skew research results. 

"Moskowitz emphasized that these studies have been controversial as it is a highly sensitive political topic with significant economic ramifications for a powerful industry," Berkeley Public Health noted.

The position held by federal regulators point to a lack of evidence showing a direct link.

"To date, there is no consistent or credible scientific evidence of health problems caused by the exposure to radio frequency energy emitted by cell phones," the Food and Drug Administration stated on its website. 

The FDA also said that the Federal Communications Commission has set a limit on radio frequency energy that "remains acceptable for protecting the public health."

In December of 2017, the California Department of Public Health issued a warning to the public about exposure to radiofrequency energy from cell phones."Although the science is still evolving, some laboratory experiments and human health studies have suggested the possibility that long-term, high use of cell phones may be linked to certain types of cancer and other health effects."

Ultimately, when it comes to cell phones, "distance is your friend," Moskowitz said. "Keeping your cellphone 10 inches away from your body, as compared to one-tenth of an inch, results in a 10,000-fold reduction in exposure. So, keep your phone away from your head and body," he advised.

Moskowitz, who has been researching and writing about the dangers of radiation from cell phones and cell towers for more than a decade, said publication of his findings have consistently led to increased calls for continued research.”

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