Mobiles: The hidden danger to children EXCLUSIVE by Adrian Butler 5/12/2009
Professor claims we are sleep walking to a cancer disaster
Britain is sleep-walking into a mobile phone health scandal as the Government ignores a link to cancer, a leading expert has warned.
Mobile phone emissions have been shown to increase the risk of THREE types of cancer in some studies - yet ministers are doing nothing to change weak official guidelines on how much they should be used.
Radiation specialist Professor Denis Henshaw said ignoring the risks of mobile phone emissions could prove as serious as playing down the link between smoking and lung cancer in the 1960s.
Thousands of parents are expected to buy mobile phones for their children as Christmas presents - unaware they could be the most dangerous gifts they ever receive.
Radiation from mobiles has more of an effect on children because it’s claimed their thinner skulls let more rays penetrate the brain.But the only official Government advice is a few confusing sentences on a leaflet and the internet, which have not been updated for THREE YEARS - and which most parents do not know exists.
It states, “the current balance of evidence does not show health problems caused by mobile phones” but children should stick to short, essential calls as a “precaution”.
ignoring the advice
Prof Henshaw, head of the Human Radiation Effect Group at the University of Bristol, said: “The Government is being very poorly advised on the whole issue. They should be taking it seriously. They have backtracked from their own scientific advice. It is like the warnings over smoking all over again.”
He warned: “We are not doing enough compared with other countries. The Government should force the mobile phone industry to publish the power levels of phones and draw attention to the latest studies.”
Prof Henshaw said although different research into the effects of mobiles had given different results, politicians must take the findings more seriously.
He said: “If you have got millions of people putting a microwave transmitter to their ear, then why should it come as a surprise that it leads to an increase in brain tumour risk?”
Prof Henshaw pointed to new research from Korea which shows that when you only take into consideration the best scientific research, a link HAD been found between mobiles and cancer.
The paper - which analyses results from the 23 most reliable studies - said there was evidence mobile use increased the risk of tumours.
While Britain has done nothing, other countries have launched clampdowns on mobile phones over health fears. France has drafted tough new laws to ban advertising them to under-12s. In Israel they are banned on public transport while in Germany low-emission models are clearly
labelled. Yet here, the average child gets a mobile phone at EIGHT - and scientists who worked on Britain’s original recommendations from 2000 admit they have been ignored.
Ministers last week said there were no plans to revise Britain’s weakly-worded advice on the use of mobile phones.
Health Minister Gillian Merron told Parliament the official leaflet, available in GP surgeries and libraries, would stay the same.
As well as the average child now getting a mobile at the age of eight, three-quarters of seven to 15-year-olds own at least one, according to a Populus poll carried out this year.
Meanwhile, a 12-year Interphone study for the World Health Organisation is expected to carry a warning about long-term mobile use. Taking evidence from 13 countries, one breakdown of the results found a “significantly increased risk” of some brain tumours “related to use of mobile phones for a period of 10 years or more”. But publication of the study - part-funded by the phone industry - keeps being put back while different experts disagree about the conclusions.
Last night a Department of Health spokesman defended the Government’s policy. He said: “Our guidance is that children should only use mobile phones for essential purposes and keep all calls short.
“We keep all available scientific evidence under review and we routinely update the guidance leaflets. A six-year UK research programme has found no association between short-term mobile phone use and cancers of the brain and nervous system.
“The situation for longer-term exposure is less clear as studies have so far only included a limited number of participants who have used their phones for 10 years or more. The Interphone study, which considered exposures greater than ten years, has yet to be published. It would be wrong to speculate on results prior to publication.”
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