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Animal study links cell-phone radiation to increased cancer risk

Cell PhoneThe largest animal study on cell-phone radiation effects confirms earlier evidence from human studies that cell-phone radiation increases the risk of cancer. The study was conducted by the federal National Toxicology Program.

The research found that male rats exposed to radio-frequency radiation had a greater chance of developing malignant brain cancer, tumors in the heart, and tumors in other organs. Other tumors were also observed in mice exposed to radio-frequency radiation. The amount of radiation the laboratory animals were exposed to includes the levels emitted by cellphones millions of people use every day.

“This is the most authoritative study published that connects cancer with cellphone radiation – it should raise alarms for policymakers and awareness for all Americans,” said Olga Naidenko, Ph.D., senior science advisor at the Environmental Working Group. “These studies should have been done before more than 90 percent of Americans, including children, started using this technology day in and day out.”

The threat that radiation from wireless devices could be a public health risk increases with this report from the NTP, Naidenko said. 

In 2011, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer said the kind of radiation emitted by cell phones is a “possible carcinogen” based on human epidemiological studies that found increased gliomas and acoustic neuromas in long-term cell-phone users.

“As new telecom networks are built around the country, in-depth assessment of children’s health risks is essential,” he said.

The EWG has been raising concerns about cellphone use and cancer for years, Naidenko said.

The decade-long, $25 million federal study confirms reports by the EWG in 2009 and 2013 that highlighted potential health risks from cell phones and wireless devices, especially for children.

The EWG’s 2009 Science Review on Cancer Risks and Children’s Health summarized studies showing health problems linked to long-term cellphone use. This included increased risk of two types of brain tumors, including glioma; decreased sperm counts, motility, and vitality among men; neurological effects; and changes in brain metabolism.

In December 2017, the state of California issued guidelines advising cell-phone users to keep phones away from their bodies. When the guidelines were made public, California Department of Public Health Director Karen Smith said:

Simple steps, such as not keeping your phone in your pocket and moving it away from your bed at night, can help reduce exposure for both children and adults … Children's brains develop through the teenage years and may be more affected by cell phone use. Parents should consider reducing the time their children use cell phones and encourage them to turn the devices off at night.

To help consumers take steps to protect themselves and their families, the EWG has created tools and tips that can help reduce exposure to cell-phone radiation. They include EWG’s Guide to Safer Cellphone Use and Six Questions about Cellphone Radiation and Your Health.

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