Cell Phone Towers Cleared: Study Finds No Link to Childhood Cancer

By Andrew Moseman | June 23, 2010 9:44 am

CellTowerThe latest entry into the cellphones-radiation-health debate is a British study of thousands of children, which investigated whether the proximity of pregnant women to cellphone towers had any effect on whether their kids developed tumors or leukemia. The result: a big no.

Researchers from Imperial College London identified 1,397 children under five who were diagnosed with leukaemia or a tumour of the brain or central nervous system between 1999 and 2001. They compared each child with four children of the same gender who were born on the same day but had not developed cancer [The Guardian].

They then cross-compared all those children to how much radiation their mothers likely received during pregnancy, based on a survey of more than 80,000 cell towers and their radiation output. No matter how they ran the numbers, the team couldn’t find a significant effect.

For instance, the mothers whose children were diagnosed with cancer lived an average of 1,173 yards from a cellphone tower while they were pregnant — statistically indistinguishable from the 1,211 yards that separated the other pregnant women from their nearest cellphone towers. Tallying up the total power output of all cellphone towers within 766 yards of each pregnant woman’s home, they found that both groups had nearly the same exposure — 2.89 kilowatts for the mothers of cancer victims and 3.00 kilowatts for the other mothers [Los Angeles Times].

In a commentary that accompanied the study in the British Medical Journal, John Bithell notes its weaknesses. First, to take such a large sample requires estimating a person’s radiation exposure based on their address; measuring it more directly would be “scientifically valuable,” Bithell writes, though right now that’s impractical for such a large study. The scientists also couldn’t estimate the cellphone usage by mothers during pregnancy, or which of them may have moved.

Even so, he says, the independently funded study is strong, and reinforces the fact that people should be more worried about known dangers like driving and talking than they should be about living near cell towers, which seems to have no effect.

“It’s reassuring,” said Elliott, a professor of epidemiology and public health medicine at Imperial College in London. “On the basis of our results, people living near mobile phone stations shouldn’t consider moving based on health reasons” [AP].

Related Content:
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80beats: Can You Fear Me Now? Cell Phone Use Not Linked to Brain Cancer
80beats: Cancer Doctor Issues Warning About Cell Phones, And Causes Panic

Image: flickr / Jeff Kubina

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Health & Medicine
  • http://yahoo Sukumar

    Findings are real or extention of a preconceived idea?

  • http://clubneko.net nick

    No amount of scientific evidence will ever convince the people that are willing to move away from cell phone towers over this kinda thing

  • YouRang

    Who screwed up the report? How can a TOTAL exposure be in kilowatts (not kilowatt-hrs). Kilowatts are a measure of instantaneous power.

  • Cliff Maurer

    Why do research scientists waste time and money on uncontrolled observational studies that do not have the sensitivity to meaningfully infer anything about the health effects of low intensity microwave radiation exposure?
    The problem is manifold:
    What are the full range of possible health effects, given that it has been established from animal studies that there are behavioural effects at exposure levels much lower than the recommended maximum exposure levels based on tissue heating?;
    Plausible effects such as brain cancers have very long latency periods, have very low incidence, are difficult to detect, and are consequentially not amenable to observational studies.
    Until recently Radiation Safety Authorities have given false assurances of no known physical basis for concern about microwave exposure other than heating effects. Now they generally concede that the false assurances were based on the erroneous assumption that microwave absorption was analogous to infrared absorption in human tissues.

  • http://phone-dock.com phone dock

    [...] recent news on mobile phones leaking cancer causing microwaves has led to [...]

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