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Cell Phone - Cancer Link Seen in Israeli Study

Mar 3, 2008 | Parker Waichman LLP Another cell phone study has linked use of the devices to cancer.  According to a Tel Aviv University study, prolonged use of cellular phones is linked to cancer and people who use cell phones for lengthy periods of time every day are 50 percent more likely to develop both benign or malignant tumors in their parotid gland, the main saliva-producing gland that is located between the jaw and ear, according to the Israeli study.  Physician and epidemiologist Dr. Siegal Sadetzki, a lecturer and researcher at Tel Aviv University conducted this recent study.  Dr. Sadetzki also found that mobile phone users living in rural areas that were far away from cellular antennas have a higher risk of cancer than people living in the cities, closer to cell phone towers. This finding is contrary to what has been traditionally believed, that proximity to cell phone towers increases cancer risks.  In fact, the study revealed that the reason for this difference is that the cellular devices have to emit more radiation for effective communication with the distant towers.

Sadetzki said that Israel is a perfect place for such a study because Israelis were early adopters with regard to cellular technology. "Unlike people in other countries, Israelis were quick to adopt cell phone technology and have continued to be exceptionally heavy users,” she said. “Therefore, the amount of exposure to radiofrequency radiation found in this study has been higher than in previous cell phone studies. This unique population has given us an indication that cell phone use is associated with cancer.”  Recent riots in the Druze village of Peki’in were spurred by locals’ belief that cell phone towers were the cause of the village’s burgeoning cancer rate.  The refusal to allow nearby towers, coupled with the nearly 100 percent usage-rate of cell phones, may be the deciding factor.

Meanwhile, past studies have not found an increased risk of cancer among cell phone users, Sadetzki says, because they focused on brain tumors and did not include genuine long-term users.  Sadetzki’s study included 500 Israelis diagnosed with benign and malignant tumors of the salivary gland.  The research also involved studying the users cell phone habits and comparing them to a control group of 1,300 healthy Israelis.  Sadetzki's findings were published in the American Journal of Epidemiology as part of the international Interphone Study, which is working to determine the risks caused by cell phone usage.

Sadetzki believes further study is necessary, but encourages precautions such as using the cell phone’s speaker phone technology, using ear-pieces, and keeping the phone away from the body while it is in use. "While I think this technology is here to stay, I believe precautions should be taken in order to diminish the exposure and lower the risk for health hazards," she said. “The question is not if we use it, but how we use it.”

Previous studies into the links between phones and cancer have generated conflicting results with a number of studies linking cell phone usage and cancers of the head and ear.

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