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Mobiles brain tumor

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New brain tumour alert on mobiles
By Robert Uhlig, Technology Correspondent
(Filed: 23/08/2002)

Long-term users of some first generation mobile phones are almost twice as likely to develop brain tumours, according to the most damaging study yet to suggest a link between cellphones and cancer.

The study of 1,617 Swedish patients diagnosed with brain tumours between 1997 and 2000 found that those who used analogue mobile phones had a third higher risk of developing brain tumours than those who had not used cellphones.

The risk of a tumour was particularly high on the side of the brain close to where the phone was usually held, the authors of the study said.

The report, published in the European Journal of Cancer Prevention, warned that for people who used the analogue cellphones for more than 10 years the risk was 80 per cent greater.

However, the implications for British mobile phone users were not entirely clear last night.

The Swedish patients all used analogue mobile phones that operated on the NMT standard. British analogue mobiles, replaced in the late 1990s by digital GSM handsets, used a similar system called TACS, which tended to have a shorter range.

Nevertheless, it will add to concerns voiced by the Government-sponsored Stewart Inquiry that many of the long-term health effects of mobile phones remain unknown. The Swedish study published yesterday said it had found "an increased risk for brain tumours among users of analogue cellular telephones".

It added that it found no increased risk for digital cellular phones - those sold nowadays - nor for cordless phones.

But Prof Kjell Hansson Mild, who led the study, said it was too early to draw conclusions on the digital GSM mobiles.

"Nothing can be said about GSM at this stage," said Prof Hansson Mild of the National Institute for Working Life in Stockholm. He added: "These are tumours that develop very slowly and GSM does not have users who have been using it for 10 years."

Nokia, which still makes NMT phones, sold mainly in Africa, said that scores of other studies conducted on the health effects of mobile phones showed no evidence of health hazards.

A spokesman said: "There have been close to 200 studies on different areas of mobile phones and in the light of those and the way the scientific evidence is, there is no health risk in using mobile phones."

A spokesman for Ericsson, which used to make NMT handsets, said: "The study and the conclusions it reaches differs from at least three other studies in the past. None of these studies found a connection between mobile phones and cancer."

Sir William Stewart, who chairs a Government group on mobile phones, found no provable health risk in his study but he called for more work to be done and urged caution over the use of mobile phones, particularly by children, until more was known about their impact on health.

Forty million people in Britain use mobile phones. As recently as June a study found for the first time that normal levels of mobile phone radiation had a biological effect on human brain cells, damaging the blood-brain barrier.

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