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Dr Vini Khurana, a top Australian neurosurgeon says the world's heavy reliance
on cell phones could be a greater threat to human health than smoking and even
Vini Khurana, who conducted a 15-month "critical review" of the link between
cell phones and malignant brain tumours, said using cells for more than 10 years
could more than double the risk of brain cancer. He has called for "immediate
and decisive steps" by industry and governments to reduce people's exposure to
invisible electromagnetic radiation emitted by handsets.
Dr Khurana also called for a "solid scientific study" observing heavy cell phone
users for a period of at least 10-15 years.
"It is anticipated that this danger has far broader public health ramifications
than asbestos and smoking, and directly concerns all of us, particularly the
younger generation, including very young children," Dr Khurana said in a
research paper published on the website brain-surgery.us.
In a phone interview Khurana clarified the statement, saying he was not implying
smoking was better for people than using cell phones, but cell-phone related
health issues affected a far greater number of people. He said there were
currently 3 billion cell phone users worldwide, a number that is growing daily,
and people started using them as young as three. He said cell phone radiation
could heat the side of the head or potentially thermoelectrically interact with
the brain, while Bluetooth devices and "unshielded" headsets could "convert the
user's head into an effective, potentially self-harming antenna".
Dr Khurana, who is a staff specialist neurosurgeon at the Canberra Hospital and
an associate professor of neurosurgery at the Australian National University,
said there had been increased reports of brain tumours associated with heavy and
prolonged cell phone use, particularly on the same side as the person's
"preferred ear" for making calls.
Chris Althaus, chief executive of the industry body, the Australian Mobile
Telecommunications Association, rejected Dr Khurana's conclusions, saying
handsets were designed, built and tested to comply with strict science-based
Mr Althaus pointed to various research papers including a World Health
Organisation fact sheet on the issue, published in 2000, which said no recent
reviews had concluded that exposure to the radiofrequency fields from cell
phones and their base stations caused any adverse health consequences.
But the WHO said there were "gaps in knowledge" that required further research
to better assess health risks, which would take several years to complete.
Further, Khurana said the WHO fact sheet was irrelevant in this instance because
"most of the worrisome data has been surfacing in the last 12-24 months".
A fact sheet on the NSW Cancer Council's website said there was no reason for
concern over harmful effects from using cell phones but relatively little was
known on the long-term effects of electromagnetic field exposure, so more
research was needed.
Dr Khurana, who since 1994 has received 14 awards, said the time between the
commencement of regular cell phone usage to the diagnosis of a malignant solid
brain tumour might be in the order of 10-20 years.
He said the link between cell phones and brain tumours had not yet been
"definitively proven" because widespread cell phone usage commenced in the
mid-1980s and solid tumours might take several years to form.
"In the years 2008-2012, we will have reached the appropriate length of
follow-up time to begin to definitively observe the impact of this global
technology on brain tumour incidence rates," Dr Khurana said.
But he said there was already enough evidence to warrant industry and
governments taking immediate action to reduce cell phone users' exposure to
electromagnetic radiation and inform them of potential dangers.
"Worldwide availability and use of appropriately shielded cell phones and
hands-free devices including headsets, increased use of landlines and pagers
instead of current mobile and cell phones, and restricted use of cellular and
cordless phones among children and adults alike are likely to limit the effects
of this physically 'invisible' danger," Dr Khurana said.
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topics: cell phone danger, cell phone cancer, cell phone radiation
shield, electromagnetic field, EMF effects,brain cancer and cell phone, cell phone electromagnetic