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WHO study on cancer from cell phones outdated: Experts

Thursday June 02, 2011 06:02:47 PM, IANS

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WHO panel sees potential link between cell phones, brain cancer

An expert panel by the World Health Organization (WHO) has established a potential link between the use of mobile phones and brain cancer, the organisation said in a statement on its website. A group of 31 scientists announced at Tuesday's meeting of the International  »

New Delhi: The World Health Organisation (WHO) study linking mobile phone usage with brain tumour does not reveal something previously unknown and the warning had been spelt out long ago for India, touted to be the world's fastest growing mobile market with 791 million mobile subscriptions, experts said Thursday.

"There have always been 'indicative studies' that said mobile phones can cause cancer, be it in India or at international level. The point is we have never really been able to substantiate it with conclusive facts and end up spreading panic," B.C. Das, director of B.R. Ambedkar Centre for Biomedical Research at the Delhi University, told IANS.

Das, former director of the institute of preventive oncology in Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), explained: "Mobile phones are closer to the brain, so the electromagnetic radiations emitted by them surely have certain adverse effects on the brain. Now it is not necessary that they result in a multi factorial disease like brain cancer."

A working group of 31 scientists from 14 countries meeting at the WHO's International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) Wednesday said a review of all the available scientific evidence suggested cell phone use should be classified as "possibly carcinogenic".

The study stated: "Using a mobile phone might increase the risk of developing certain types of brain tumours and consumers should consider ways of reducing their exposure."

Lilavati Hospital in Mumbai and the ICMR had earlier conducted studies on the "effects of mobile phones with Indian perspective".

But no study has been able to present conclusive proof, said P.K. Julka, professor of radiotherapy and oncology at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS).

Mobile handset manufacturers, meanwhile, echo the health experts and advise waiting for more studies before reaching any final conclusion.

"It is important to note that IARC has not classified radio frequency fields as definitely nor even probably carcinogenic to humans. The researchers have only concluded that based on limited evidence, it may be possible that there could be some increased risk for certain cancer," an official from Nokia told IANS.

Rajan S. Mathews, director general of the Cellular Operators Association of India, said in statement: "It is significant that IARC has concluded that radio frequency electromagnetic fields are neither a definite nor a probable human carcinogen. Additional research is required."

However, experts vouch for the precautions suggested by the WHO to minimise the use of mobile phones.

"One can opt for text messaging, e-mail, landline phone use and reduce the time spent talking on mobile phones. This should be done without panicking," added Julka.

Youngsters, who comprise nearly 60 percent of the over 600 million user base, too say the precautions are viable.

"I think one can surely resort to alternatives such text messaging and e-mails to minimise the use of mobile phones. The study will come as an alarm, though not proven," said 20-year-old Sakshi Mathur.




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