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Mobile Phone Radiation Harms DNA, New Study Finds
Mon Dec 20, 2004 04:38 PM GMT
(Reuters) - Radio waves from mobile phones harm body cells and damage
DNA in laboratory conditions, according to a new study majority-funded
by the European Union, researchers said on Monday. The so-called Reflex
study, conducted by 12 research groups in seven European countries, did
not prove that mobile phones are a risk to health but concluded that
more research is needed to see if effects can also be found outside a
The $100 billion a year mobile phone industry asserts that there is no
conclusive evidence of harmful effects as a result of electromagnetic
About 650 million mobile phones are expected to be sold to consumers
this year, and over 1.5 billion people around the world use one.
The research project, which took four years and which was coordinated
by the German research group Verum, studied the effect of radiation on
human and animal cells in a laboratory.
After being exposed to electromagnetic fields that are typical for
mobile phones, the cells showed a significant increase in single and
double-strand DNA breaks. The damage could not always be repaired by
the cell. DNA carries the genetic material of an organism and its
"There was remaining damage for future generation of cells," said
project leader Franz Adlkofer.
This means the change had procreated. Mutated cells are seen as a
possible cause of cancer.
The radiation used in the study was at levels between a Specific
Absorption Rate (SAR) of between 0.3 and 2 watts per kilogram. Most
phones emit radio signals at SAR levels of between 0.5 and 1 W/kg.
SAR is a measure of the rate of radio energy absorption in body tissue,
and the SAR limit recommended by the International Commission of
Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection is 2 W/kg. The study also measured
other harmful effects on cells. Because of the lab set-up, the
researchers said the study did not prove any health risks. But they
added that "the genotoxic and phenotypic effects clearly require
further studies ... on animals and human volunteers."
Adlkofer advised against the use of a mobile phone when an alternative
fixed line phone was available, and recommended the use of a headset
connected to a cellphone whenever possible.
"We don't want to create a panic, but it is good to take precautions,"
he said, adding that additional research could take another four or
Previous independent studies into the health effects of mobile phone
radiation have found it may have some effect on the human body, such as
heating up body tissue and causing headaches and nausea, but no study
that could be independently repeated has proved that radiation had
permanent harmful effects.
None of the world's top six mobile phone vendors could immediately
respond to the results of the study.
In a separate announcement in Hong Kong, where consumers tend to spend
more time talking on a mobile phone than in Europe, a German company
called G-Hanz introduced a new type of mobile phone which it claimed
had no harmful radiation, as a result of shorter bursts of the radio
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