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The Daily Mirror, 29/10/07

Mobile phone danger. We could be sitting on a health time-bomb.

Martes 30 de octubre de 2007 · 1662 lecturas

The Daily Mirror, 29/10/07

Mobile phone danger. We could be sitting on a health time-bomb.

29/10/2007

A motorist speaks on his mobile phone

Chances are you’ve already made at least one call on your mobile today - just like 40 million other users in the UK.

Mobile usage is immense, with half the world’s population predicted to have one by the end of the decade.

But if new research is to be believed, we could be sitting on a health time-bomb.

Ever since these nifty gadgets first became popular they’ve been plagued with health concerns.

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Yet time after time we’ve been reassured by the government and mobile phone companies that they pose no danger - until now.

The most comprehensive study of the risks so far has found that regular use of a mobile phone for more than a decade can raise your risk of cancer.

Two Swedish scientists, Professor Lennart Hardell and Professor Kjell Hansson Mild, found that longterm users had double the chance of developing a tumour on the side of the brain they held the handset. And, more frighteningly, just one hour a day on the mobile was enough to increase the risk.

Playing down the dangers

Only last month, Britain’s largest investigation into the health risks of phones, the 8.8m Mobile Telecommunications and Health Research (MTHR) programme - funded by the government and phone companies - reported that "mobile phones have not been found to be associated with any adverse health effects".

But other scientists argue that this, and previous official reassurances, have been based on studies that have included few long-term users - simply because mobiles haven’t been around long enough.

The MTHR chairman even admitted: "We cannot rule out the possibility at this stage that cancer could appear in a few years’ time."

What’s being done to prevent the risk?

The Swedish scientists behind the latest study want a change to be made to the current radiation emission safety levels for mobiles and other sources of radiation, which they describe as "inappropriate" and "not safe".

The international standard is designed to prevent dangerous heat levels and electrical currents but they say it doesn’t take into account the risk of triggering cancer, they say.

"The truth is, we don’t yet know exactly what the effects of radiation emitted from mobiles and mobile masts are," says environmental scientist Dr Matt Salzmann.

"Cancers take at least 10 years - and normally much longer - to develop but, as mobile phones have become widespread so recently and rapidly, few people have been using them that long."

Experts fear we could see many more long-term mobile users developing brain tumours after 15, 20 or 30 years, and they’re particularly concerned about the potential effects on young people.

Are my kids at risk?

A shocking one in three children aged from seven to 11 now owns a mobile. Yet experts fear children could be at greatest risk from radiation damage because their thinner skulls and developing nervous systems could make them more susceptible.

"Children shouldn’t use mobile phones unless it’s absolutely necessary," according to Professor Hansson Mild.

A recent BBC Panorama programme also highlighted concern over the use of Wi-Fi - wireless Internet - systems in schools. One report suggested they could give off three times as much radiation as a mobile phone mast.

Philip Parkin, general secretary of the Professional Association of Teachers, has called for the suspension of this technology in schools until more research is done.

"I have heard and read enough to make me concerned," he says. "Until there is a proper inquiry, the nation’s children are being treated as guinea pigs in a large-scale experiment."

But Dr Salzmann is worried about a knee-jerk reaction: "The bottom line is we just don’t know at the moment.

"More research is needed before we either pronounce mobile technology safe or start panicking and banning it on the basis of bad science.

"In the meantime, it’s wise to be cautious and limit your mobile usage."

WHAT’S ELECTROMAGNETIC RADIATION?

All modern electronics emit electromagnetic radiation - waves of electrically charged par ticles.

Here are the worst offenders...

MOBILES

Radiation emitted by mobiles has decreased since the first models a decade ago, but is still significant.

Check your model out at www.sarvalues.com

CORDLESS PHONES

The base of cordless phones gives off radiation even when not in use.

MOBILE PHONE MASTS

Several clusters of cancer have been reported around phone masts, raising concerns over the technology. Visit www.radiationresearch.org to discover how close you live to a phone mast.

Wi-Fi

Wireless computer connections have been linked with reduced memory, loss of concentration and headaches - some experts fear they could increase the longterm risk of cancer.

My mobile phone cost me my career

Charlotte Dorman, 28, works in PR

’I’m not surprised at the latest finding about mobiles. I worked as a sales rep for four years and was on my phone for hours at a time. I noticed the right side of my head, where I held my phone, felt hot and heavy after long calls. I began getting headaches and developed insomnia.

Then my memory went. I’d always prided myself on my ability to remember customer’s names, but found myself stuttering, unable to form coherent sentences.

I’m sure it was my phone, as when I stopped using it the symptoms disappeared. My employer gave me phone cards to use at pay phones but this was impossible as I needed to take vital sales calls 24-7. I became so ill I took a desk job and now use a landline - thankfully the headaches have stopped.

I have a mobile for emergencies, but limit calls to less than a minute - if I take them at all.’

I believe a phone mast gave me cancer

Eileen O’Connor, 44, was diagnosed with breast cancer six years ago. She’s now a trustee of EM Radiation Research Trust www.radiationresearch.co.uk

’I was 38 when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I had no family history of it and lived a healthy lifestyle.

Shortly after my husband and I had moved to Wishaw, in Sutton Coldfield, seven years before, a 22.5 metre phone mast went up opposite our house. It was then I started feeling run down and experiencing vertigo. Several years of feeling unwell ended up with a horrific skin rash and a lump in my breast, and I was diagnosed with cancer.

Out of the 18 houses in a 500-metre radius of the mast, 77 per cent have suffered major illnesses, including breast cancer and prostate cancer. We believe this is linked to radiation from the mast and the government is burying its head in the sand about the dangers.’

6 WAYS TO PROTECT YOURSELF

1Use your mobile as little as possible and make only short calls, saving longer ones for landlines.

2 Only allow your children to carry a phone to use in case of an emergency.

3Keep your mobile at least 6-7 inches away from your body - not in your pocket - and switch it off at night.

4 Buy an "air tube", not wired or wireless, headset for your mobile. Visit www.amazon.co.uk

5 Replace cordless phones with corded landlines where possible.

6 Minimise children’s exposure to wireless technology.

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