Mobile phones cop heat over cancer
LIKE every other city in Australia, most Ipswich residents have a mobile phone within easy reach.
But could research from a World Health Organisation body, which found that mobile phone users may be at increased risk from brain cancer, stop us reaching for iPhones, Nokias or Blackberrys?
Experts from The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) said radio-frequency electromagnetic fields generated by mobiles are “possibly carcinogenic”.
The body recommended phone owners should use texting and free-hands devices to reduce exposure.
“The findings don’t surprise me,” said Amanda Taylor, owner of Ipswich small business Popeto Portraits.
“The main phone line for my business is my mobile phone number, so I’m always using it.
“If they found it was proven to cause cancer, I would go back to using a landline and email more.”
Fellow Ipswich small business owner Melissa Stewart said she also used her mobile phone extensively for her home decor business Miss Nena Rose.
She said until the links between mobile phones and cancer were proven and not just possible, she would continue to use her mobile.
“I’m always on the phone for work,” she said.
“I think mobile phone companies would spend lots of money trying to find ways around it if phones were causing cancer.”
The IARC said there are about five billion mobile phones registered in the world, with the number of phones and the average time spent using them having both climbed steadily in recent years.
An Australian researcher who worked on the report with 30 other cancer experts said the latest 3G mobile devices like iPhones and other smart phones may deliver a lower dose of radio waves than earlier models.
Professor Bruce Armstrong from the University of Sydney said frequent use could still cause cancer, but more research is needed.
“Really, what it’s saying is there is an observed association between using a mobile phone and a higher risk of brain cancer,” he said.
Professor Armstrong said the 3G technology used by iPhones, Blackberry and other mobile phones also appeared to emit less harmful radio waves.
“A very important observation, really, just based on the technology, is that the 3G phones in fact give a much lower dose to the brain than the previous generations,” he said.
“Whether, for example, the 3G levels are sufficient to cause brain tumours, we don’t know at this stage, because most of the research at this stage was done on the generation before.”
The IARC had previously stated that there was no real health risks associated with long-term mobile phone use.
According to a 2010 survey, the number of mobile phone users worldwide has hit five billion, or nearly three-quarters of the global population.
Earlier this year, a US National Institutes of Health study found that mobile phone use can speed up brain activity.
Other studies have shown brain tumour patients did not report using mobiles more than unaffected people.