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Study finds long term heavy use of cell phones does increase cancer risk

It's not uncommon that studies done on the same subject often come to vastly different conclusions; and studies on the link between increased risk of cancer and cell phone usage are no exception.

A study published last year in American Journal of Epidemiology has shown that frequent cell phone users face a 50 percent higher risk of developing certain types of tumors. Specifically the risk of developing parotid tumors is increased by 50 percent. The parotid is the largest salivary gland and is located near the jaw and ear where cell phones are typically held.

A 50 percent increased risk of cancer sounds very serious, and any increased chance of cancer should be taken seriously. However, if you stand back and look at the actual numbers the chance of getting a tumor from using a cell phone is still incredibly minute.

A study performed by Mark Kidd showed that in heavy cell phone users the risk of parotid tumors increased from 0.003 percent to 0.0045 percent.

In September of 2007 DailyTech reported that the Mobile Telecommunications and Health Research Programme published a study stating that there was no short-term link between cancer and cell phone use. The report did say that more research was needed into the association of long term cell phone use and cancer.

A study by Dr. Siegal Sadetzki showed that using a cell phone for more than 10 years does in fact raise the risk of brain cancer and notes that children are particularly at risk because of their developing skulls. Sadetzki says, “While I think this technology is here to stay, I believe precautions should be taken in order to diminish the exposure and lower the risk for health hazards.”

Sadetzki recommends using a hands-free device at all times and holding the phone away from the body along with shorter less frequent calls. She also says limit the time kids spend on the phone.

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RE: Unlikely.
By masher2 on 2/18/2008 3:21:47 PM , Rating: 2
> "would indicate that the group must have had at least a sample size of 200,000; unless you can halfway get cancer?"

Epidemiological studies work a bit differently. Their sample set is a group of people who all suffer from the disease, compared to a control set of (generally) 1000 or so people who didn't.

Of course, such studies are usually bunk. Let's look at this one, for instance. They start with ~450 actual cases of PGTs -- no association to cell phone usage was found. They then toss out all the contralateral cases, those who use hands-free devices, and those with only regular usage in urban areas (where signals tend to be weaker), and they're down to under 100 cases, where normal statistical variance can be expected to turn something up. And lo and behold it does!

Of course, even the study's authors realize what shaky ground they're on, which is why they themselves state the results only "suggest an association". Because an association may not exist, and even if it does, it may be something totally opposite to what it seems. For instance, rural users may have lower incomes and/or other lifestyle changes which increase their chances of a PGT.

Or -- more likely still -- the small sample set itself may just be experiencing random variance. Look at enough rare diseases in enough small samples, and you'll eventually find several which show elevated rates. That's the nature of statistics.

That's why we've seen so many studies which "suggest" a link between cancer and some benign activity, only to be disproven later by a larger, more thorough study.

RE: Unlikely.
By KristopherKubicki on 2/18/2008 3:28:12 PM , Rating: 2
Yep -- you eloquently put what I was trying to say :)

"We basically took a look at this situation and said, this is bullshit." -- Newegg Chief Legal Officer Lee Cheng's take on patent troll Soverain
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