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New Study Suggests Cell Phone Link to Brain Tumors

May 27, 2014

A new study suggests growing evidence to support a link between cell phone usage and brain tumors.

A French study published this month suggests that people who spend a lot of time on their cell phones may be at a higher risk of developing a brain tumor, the Las Vegas Guardian Liberty Voice reports.

Cell phones emit radiofrequency electromagnetic fields in the microwave spectrum, which may be cancer causing, although that is not yet proven, says Dr. Seung-Kwon Myung of South Korea's National Cancer Center. Myung led a large analysis of previous studies of cell phone use and brain tumors, Reuters reports. In 2011, the World Health Organization’s International Agency on Cancer classified this radiation as possibly carcinogenic.

The French research team, led by Dr. Gaelle Coureau of the Université Bordeaux Segalen, used a cancer registry to identify adults with meningiomas or gliomas, the two most common adult brain tumors. The radio frequency electromagnetic fields that researchers believe can cause cancer cause heat as they penetrate tissue. A cell phone held at the ear brings the source of the radiation frequencies close to the brain, and this may be the link between cell phones and brain tumors, according to the Guardian Liberty Voice. Critics of this theory argue that the energy emitted by cell phones is non-ionizing, meaning it should not cause damage to chemical bonds or DNA within a human body, but the Environmental Working Group found ten studies showing that cell phones in pockets can affect men’s sperm quality.

The French analysis included 253 cases of glioma and 194 cases of meningioma in four French regions, along with a comparison group of twice as many people from the same areas who had never had a brain tumor, according to Reuters. The researchers investigated participants’ cell phone use, asking about phone model, how long they had used it, the average number and length of calls made and received each month and whether they used the phone for work. They classified as “regular users” those who used a cell phone at least once a week for at least six months. People with the longest cumulative duration of calls, or more than 896 hours on the phone, were about twice as likely to have a glioma or meningioma as people who talked less.

The World Health Organization says that holding the phone farther away from the head, or using speaker phone or a hands-free device results in much lower radio frequency exposure, important advice for those who spend a large amount of time on a cell phone, according to the Guardian Liberty Voice.

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