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Fresh Fears Over Mobile Phones

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    NHNE News List Current Members: 680 Subscribe/unsubscribe/archive info at the bottom of this message. ... FRESH FEARS OVER MOBILE PHONES BBC Wednesday, 19
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 29, 2002
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      NHNE News List
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      Subscribe/unsubscribe/archive info at the bottom of this message.

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      FRESH FEARS OVER MOBILE PHONES
      BBC
      Wednesday, 19 June, 2002

      http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/health/newsid_2053000/2053565.stm

      A major study into the safety of mobile phones has concluded that they may
      affect the health of people who use them.

      Research carried out by scientists in Finland suggests radiation from mobile
      phones causes changes in the brain.

      It is the first time that scientists have looked at the effects of mobile
      phone radiation on human cells rather than those of rats.

      The two-year study concluded that even low-level emissions from handsets are
      damaging.

      Scientists from the Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority found that
      exposing human cells to mobile phone radiation damaged the blood-brain
      barrier -- a safety barrier in the body that stops harmful substances in
      blood from entering the brain.

      They discovered that the exposure caused the cells in blood vessel walls to
      shrink which enabled molecules to pass into brain tissue.

      Lab tests

      Professor Darius Leszcynski, who carried out the study, said the results
      came from laboratory tests on human cells and that further research was
      needed to see if the same effect actually happened in humans.

      But speaking to BBC News Online, he said: "The blood-brain barrier has been
      shown to be affected by radiation in animal studies.

      "There is a lot of uncertainty about whether this happens in humans. We have
      shown some biological effects."

      Prof Leszcynski said these changes could have a serious impact on a person's
      health if they were found to happen in humans.

      "If it did happen it could lead to disturbances, such as headaches, feeling
      tired or problems with sleeping. A study by a Swedish research group even
      suggested it could lead to Alzheimer's disease."

      However, he added: "It is important to remember that our study has been done
      in the laboratory where we can detect even the smallest changes.

      "We cannot say whether it happens in humans. We need further study looking
      at real people to see if the blood-brain barrier is affected.

      "What is happening in the human brain is an absolute enigma. We don't know
      at all."

      'Still safe'

      Prof Leszcynski said mobile phones were still safe to use.

      "At the moment, there is no scientific support for introducing any sort of
      limitation either on use of mobile phones or setting new safety limits.

      "There is no need because we don't have any science to support it. All the
      guidelines in place at the moment are fine."

      Prof Leszcynski will present his findings at a conference in Quebec, Canada,
      next week.

      He said a study by French scientists, which will also be presented at the
      conference, found similar results in rats.

      Dr Michael Clark, science spokesman at the National Radiological Protection
      Board, said the research did not show any impact on people's health.

      "This is demonstrating a biological effect in cells in the lab."

      Speaking to the BBC, he said: "It doesn't relate to a health effect. You
      can't go from a biological effect in a Petri dish to say that's a health
      effect."

      He added: "The authors themselves are saying that this doesn't mean that
      mobile phones are unsafe or the guidelines are wrong."

      The Consumers' Association said there was still insufficient evidence to say
      whether or not mobile phones were safe.

      A spokesman said: "At the moment, it's too soon to reach a definitive
      verdict on health risks from mobile phones, but neither has research given
      it the all clear."

      The National Consumers' Council said mobile phone users were reaching their
      own conclusions about the risks.

      "The people who feel that mobile phones are very important and essential in
      their lives would attach less weight to this new information than those who
      are already concerned about the risk," said a spokeswoman.

      More than 40 million people in Britain have mobile phones, many of them
      children.

      Government studies

      Two years ago a government inquiry led by Sir William Stewart concluded that
      mobile phones posed no provable health risk.

      But its report urged caution over the use of mobile phones by children until
      more was known about their impact on health.

      In January, a new £7.4 million research programme was announced, backed by
      the government and the mobile phone industry, to be managed by an
      international committee of experts led by Sir William.

      The programme includes 15 studies which will seek clear conclusions about
      the health hazards of mobile phones, in particular fears of an association
      between mobile phone radiation and brain cancer.

      The main purpose of the research will be to see whether "subtle biological
      changes" already known to be caused by mobile phones pose a risk.

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