A $25 million study by federal scientists uncovered a link between cellphones and cancer in rats, reigniting a longstanding debate over the health effects of the use of mobile devices.
The National Toxicology Program, a division of the National Institutes of Health, found that male rodents exposed to the same type of radiation found in cell phones experienced low incidences of two types of tumors, one in the brain and the other in the heart. The two-year, peer-reviewed study involved more than 2,500 rats exposed to radiation at the same frequencies as mobile phones for nine hours every day.
"Given the widespread global usage of mobile communications among users of all ages, even a very small increase in the incidence of disease resulting from exposure to RFR (radiofrequency radiation) could have broad implications for public health," the scientists wrote. "There is a high level of public and media interest regarding the safety of cell phone RFR and the specific results of these NTP studies…. These findings appear to support the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) conclusions regarding the possible carcinogenic potential of RFR."
The NIH, which helped oversee the study, released a statement earlier this week noting a lack of evidence that mobile phones cause cancer in humans, The Wall Street Journal reported. "It is important to note that previous human, observational data collected in earlier, large-scale population-based studies have found limited evidence of an increased risk for developing cancer from cellphone use," the NIH report said.
The study used both GSM and CDMA technologies, using 900 MHz for rats and 1900 MHz for mice. Results from the study on mice have yet to be released.
The question of whether mobile devices pose a health risk has loomed for nearly as long as cell phones have been on the market. The World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer classified mobile phone use "and other radiofrequency electromagnetic fields" as a possible carcinogen in 2011, and nearly 200 independent scientists from 39 countries last year called on the United Nations and other international organizations to enact stricter regulations for phone radiation.
The FCC was briefed on the study, the Journal reported. "We will continue to follow all recommendations from federal health and safety experts including whether the FCC should modify its current policies and RF exposure limits," an FCC spokesman told the Journal. The FCC currently certifies mobile phones and other radio frequency-emitting devices for sale to Americans.
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