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US National Toxicology Programme finds link between cell phone radiation and tumours

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These days, there are ongoing concerns regarding cellphone usage.

Male animals, but not females, had a higher rate of malignant schwannomas - arising in nerves in the heart - compared with animals not exposed to cell phone radiofrequency radiation. The toxicology program is headquartered at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.

A woman uses her cell phones in Manhattan, New York, U.S., January 30, 2018.

The rodent studies do not reflect real-life cellphone use, he cautioned.

Radiation surges when cell phones are trying to connect to faint network signals or transmit large amounts of information. Based on limited research that shows a potentially elevated risk of schwannomas near the brain in people, the International Agency for Research on Cancer now lists radio-frequency fields as "possibly carcinogenic to humans".

Brawley said if cellphone users are concerned about this data in animals they should wear an earpiece.

Both female and male rats were found to have increased damage to heart tissue or cardiomyopathy. It is said by the Food and Drug Administration that these limits are safe even on exposure. The exposure levels used in the studies were equal to and higher than the highest level permitted for local tissue exposure in cell phone emissions today.

Jeffrey Shuren, director of the FDA's Center for Devices and Radiological Health, said in a statement that the agency's preliminary understanding of the results "is that the study found mostly equivocal, or ambiguous, evidence that whole body radio-frequency energy exposures given to rats or mice in the study actually caused cancer in these animals". "At best it might be a weak carcinogen. if, in fact, it is a carcinogen", he said.

That means that muscular tissues are especially affected by cell phone radiation, which my explain why the nerve tumors were most likely to form in a highly muscular organ. Bucher said that could be just chance, or it could be that the radiation reduced inflammation in the rats, which in turn decreased the risk of a rat disease.

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That early release prompted a spate of related research, which, in turn, prompted the state of California and former NIH toxicologists, among others, to issue warnings in the past year. The earlier report showed a hint of increased brain tumours in male rats, but the final results did not bear that out.

The study produced some evidence of an increased incidence of brain tumors in male rats, but the data left the NTP scientists with a "lower level of certainty" that exposure to cell phone radiofrequency radiation caused the tumors.

In addition to cancer, the study looked at other health effects such as evidence of tissue damage from the heat of cellphones, DNA damage and changes in body weight.

As part of the research, the rodents were divided into different study arms that were exposed to different levels of radiation. This is a situation, obviously, that people are not going to be encountering in utilizing cell phones. Carpenter said the studies were not large enough to uncover some rare problems and that the claim of "equivocal" findings of brain tumours "cannot be dismissed".

In 2011, a working group of the International Agency for Research on Cancer said cellphones are possibly carcinogenic.

The CTIA had a different interpretation, pointing out that when partial results of the same study were released in 2016 numerous global and US health organizations "maintained their long-standing conclusion that the scientific evidence shows no known health risk due to the [radio-frequency] energy emitted by cellphones". Among the largest studies, a 2010 analysis in 13 countries found little or no risk of brain tumours, with a possible link in the heaviest users that the study's authors found inconclusive.

In the NTP study, rats and mice were exposed to higher levels of radiation for longer periods of time than what people experience with even the highest level of cellphone use, and their entire bodies were exposed all at once, according to the draft report.

In December, the state of California put out a guide on how people could reduce exposure to radiofrequency from cell phones if they're anxious, such as using earphones or texting instead.

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