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Push on For Cell Phone Cancer Warning in Maine

Dec 21, 2009 | Parker Waichman LLP
Rep. Boland

Rep. Boland's push for such a warning comes at time when concerns over the possible health

A Maine lawmaker wants cell phones to carry a warning that they may cause brain cancer.  According to an Associated Press report, if Rep. Andrea Boland, D-Sanford,  has her way, Maine would become the first state to require a cell phone cancer warning.

Rep. Boland's push for such a warning comes at time when concerns over the possible health consequences of cell phone use are growing. Just this past October, we reported that a preliminary analysis of the World Health Organization's (WHO) groundbreaking Interphone study found a “significantly increased risk” of some brain tumors “related to use of mobile phones for a period of 10 years or more.” The Interphone project conducted studies in 13 countries, interviewing tumor sufferers and people in good health to see whether their cell phone use differed. Interviews were conducted with 12,800 people between 2000 and 2004.

Six of eight Interphone studies found some rise in the risk of glioma (the most common brain tumor), with one finding a 39 percent increase. Two of seven studies into acoustic neurinoma (a benign tumor of a nerve between the ear and brain) reported a higher risk after using mobiles for 10 years. A Swedish report said it was 3.9 times higher. An Israeli study found heavy users were about 50 per cent more likely to suffer tumors of the parotid salivary gland.

The Interphone Authors Did Say The Study Was Not Definitive, And Limited

The Interphone authors did say the study was not definitive, and limited because it depended on subjects’ memories to determine frequency of cell phone use. But the study’s head, Dr Elisabeth Cardis, said she backed new warnings for cell phones based on its findings.

Boland, who the Associated Press says uses a cell phone with a speaker to keep the device away from her head, has persuaded Maine's legislative leaders to allow her cell phone warning proposal to come up for discussion during the 2010 legislative session that begins in January.  If adopted, manufacturers would have to put labels on phones and packaging warning of the potential for brain cancer associated with electromagnetic radiation. The warnings would recommend that users, especially children and pregnant women, keep the devices away from their head and body. The warning would also include a color graphic of a child's brain.

According to the Associated Press, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom is also pushing  to make his city  the first in the nation to require cell phone cancer warnings.  His proposal goes farther than Rep. Boland's, and would require manufacturers to display the electromagnetic radiation absorption rate level next to each phone in print at least as big as the price.

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