ABC World News: The WHO Urges Precaution Of Cell Phone Use and Cancer Risk.

Are cell phones safe?Jun 1, 2011 – ABC World News Tonight with Diane Sawyer together with Jim Sciutto reported that the World Health Organization (WHO) 24 hours ago delivered for the first time a urging precaution about cancer and cell phone use.  Anticipating the confusion of  millions of people who will be looking for answers for themselves and their children, the ABC team spent the day the digging into evidence and talking to the experts to bring new details and perspective. 

Jim Sciutto reported on a study done in a California laboratory where a robot probe enters a simulated human brain measuring the radiation emitted by a cell phone.  The WHO’s judgment that such radiation could possibly cause cancer has left a big question.  If there is a link why hasn’t there been a worldwide increase in brain cancers now that billions use a cell phone?

Dr. Keith L. Black, Department of Neurosurgery, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, said the overall risk of developing a malignant brain tumor is about six per 100,000 people per year.  So it is not a huge increase where you would all of a sudden start seeing neighbors rushing to the hospital with a brain cancer.

But the most compelling evidence cited by WHO is in a multi-country study which found that people who use cell phones most often, an average of 30 minutes a day over 10 years had a 40% higher risk of a rare brain tumor called a glioma.  We’ve learned today that the WHO also considered not yet released papers showing an increased risk for another kind of brain cancer called acoustic neuroma as well as tumor growth in the exact parts of the brain where cell phone radiation is strongest.

Still numerous other studies have tried and failed to establish any link. One even found those who use cell phones occasionally had a lower cancer risk than those who use land lines.  So why the discrepancy?

Tests like the one in the California lab show that cell phones commercially available in the US emit radiation within government safety limits. However those very limits are in hot dispute. Researchers in Utah  show that the radiation dose is higher in the brains of five and 10-year-olds than in adults partly because five and 10-year-olds’ sculls are thinner.

ABC news decided to take their own look at the radiation coming from their own cell phones. They used meters which are much simpler than those used in a scientific study.  But at least the meters showed how the radio frequency level jumps when you use cell phones in different ways.  The News Team watched the levels jump as they made calls and received e-mails.

Jim Sciutto said the Who’s statements were based on cell phones held about an inch away from your body at all times but that’s based on callers using a holster.  They haven’t tested for cell phones kept in your pocket like a lot of men do.  One of the many questions that science has yet to answer definitively.

Yet as more studies come out the trend seems to lean toward caution.  On one episode of  the Dr. Oz Show, Dr. Oz gave his recommendation for cell phone use.

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