Round and round we go - another day, another report. This one says that there is "no convincing evidence" that RF radiation from mobile phones causes brain cancers in humans. Martyn Warwick wonders what tomorrow may bring.
As the "Children With Cancer" conference in London reaches its third and final day (TelecomTV reported on the gathering yesterday) and continues to examine research indicating that there may be provable links between the widespread use of mobile handsets and the incidence of brain cancers, yet another, countervailing, report has been published which concludes that there is "no convincing evidence" that mobile comms devices have any adverse effects on the human body.
According to the UK's Health Protection Agency's (HPA) Independent Advisory Group's analysis and precis of a "substantial" number of research into non-ionising radiation the only real risk relating to a mobile phone is when people use one whilst driving and suffer a consequent accident.
The HPA says that exhaustive analysis of the plethora of research reports concluding that radiation from mobile devices may be a contributory factor to the 50 per cent increase in the incidence of frontal and temporal lobe brain tumours that was recorded between 1999 and 2009 and was co-incident with the globally widespread mass uptake of mobile telephony shows that there is no real risk to humans because none of the results of experiments which "prove" a causal link between radiation and tumours have been or can be replicated elsewhere.
Professor Anthony Swerdlow, of the HPA's Independent Advisory Group and a member of Institute of Cancer Research coments, "There has now been a very large amount of research conducted, which wasn't true 10 years ago, and we have much firmer information than we had on several areas, for instance symptoms, cognitive effects, brain tumours, than we had then."
Professor Swerdlow also says that while it is impossible to "prove negatives" [i.e the provision of definitive, replicable proof that mobile devices don't cause brain tumours and other cancers] there is "accumulating reassurance" that mobiles are safe.
The conclusion of the HPA is; "The overall results of epidemiological studies to date do not demonstrate that the use of mobile phones causes brain tumours or any other type of malignancy, nor do they suggest that causation is likely. They give considerable evidence against a material causal effect on brain tumour risk within 10 years since first use, and to a lesser extent within 15 years, but give far less information about longer periods. There is very limited information on risks of childhood tumours.
As mobile phone use has proved very difficult to measure retrospectively in recall-based studies, and has become ubiquitous over a relatively short period of time, considerable weight needs to be given to evidence from national brain tumour incidence trends. So far, these give no indication of any risk, but continued surveillance of them is not difficult and would be valuable."
So, whilst, in essence, dismissing the results of research showing that they may be a causal link between RF and cancer, the HPA does at least believe that the subject should be kept under ongoing review on the grounds that as the years pass convincing, verifiable and replicable evidence to the contrary may emerge,
Contrast that with the words of John Cooke, the Executive Director of the trade body, The Mobile Operators Association. He says, "There is good evidence that the proliferation of warnings about risk, where there is no good evidence for such risk, is counter-productive and bad for public health."
"Bad for public health"? What on earth does that mean?
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