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WHO Conducts A study on Mobile-Cancer Link

A study by the World Health Organization’s () International Agency for Research on (IARC), the largest ever to look at possible links between mobile phones and , threw up inconclusive results but researchers said suggestions of a possible link demanded deeper examination.

‘The results really don’t allow us to conclude that there is any risk associated with use, but… it is also premature to say that there is no risk associated with it,’ the IARC’s director Christopher Wild told Reuters.

The results of the study have been keenly awaited by mobile phone companies and by campaign groups who have raised concerns about whether mobile phones cause brain tumours.

Wild said part of the problem with this study, which was launched in 2000, was that rates of mobile phone usage in the period it covered were relatively low compared with today.

It was also based on people searching their memories to estimate how much time they spent on their cell phones, a method that can throw up inaccuracies.

European scientists last month launched what will now become the biggest ever study into the effects of mobile phone use on long-term health. It aims to track at least a quarter of a million of people in five European countries for up to 30 years.

This kind of study, called a prospective study, is considered more accurate because it does not require people to remember their cell phone use later but tracks it in real time.

Data from the IARC study showed that overall, mobile telephone users in fact had a lower risk of brain cancer than people who had never used one, but the 21 scientists who conducted the study said this finding suggested problems with the method, or inaccurate information from those who took part.

Other results showed high cumulative call time may slightly raise the risk, but again the finding was not reliable.

‘There are indications of a possible increase. We’re not sure that it is correct. It could be due to bias, but the indications are sufficiently strong… to be concerned.’

Because of this, and because cell phone use is rising all the time, more research was needed, the scientists said.

The 21 scientists were part of a group known as the Interphone International Study Group which was funded in part by money from mobile phone companies. The study was published in the International Journal of Epidemiology.

The researchers said the majority of people covered in their study ‘were not heavy mobile phone users by today’s standards’.

The average lifetime cumulative call time for those who took part was around 100 hours, with an average of 2 to 2-1/2 hours of reported use a month. The heaviest 10 percent of users had clocked up an average of 1,640 hours of phone use spread over 10 years, which corresponds to about half an hour a day.

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