A recent study found that wireless phones—cordless and cell phones—are linked to malignant brain cancer. The New York Daily News reports that a Swedish study found that brain tumor rates tripled among those who spoke on cell or cordless phones after more than 25 years.
The study in the journal "Pathophysiology" says that Swedes who spoke on cell or cordless phones for more than 25 years had three times the risk of one type of brain cancer, compared with people who used those phones for under a year.
The study reveals that the longer someone talked on their phone—in terms of hours and years—the more likely they were to develop glioma, a deadly form of brain cancer.
Participants who recalled talking the most—more than 1,486 hours—on wireless phones were twice as likely to develop glioma compared to those who said they used the devices the fewest hours—between one and 122 hours, the study found.
The new evidence contradicts the biggest study so far on the topic, which was funded in part by cell phone manufacturers. The International Interphone study asserts that it didn't find strong evidence that cell phones increased brain tumor risk, according to Reuters.
The Swedish study says that there was no association between wireless phones and malignant brain tumors other than glioma. A noteworthy limitation of the study, however, is that it relied on people recalling their phone habits from decades ago.
In 2011, 31 scientists in the World Health Organization deemed cell phones "possibly carcinogenic," and the Federal Communications Commission is now reviewing its 1996 safe radiation exposure limits, according to Reuters.
Dr. Gabriel Zada, a neurosurgeon at the University of Southern California's Keck School of Medicine, who wasn't involved in the study, advises precautionary measures, such as using the phone's speaker or a hands-free headset.
In a 2012 study, Zada reported that rates of malignant tumors in parts of the brain closest to where people hold their phones rose significantly in California from 1992 to 2006—although the incidence of gliomas throughout the brain decreased.
U.S. cell phone use tripled between 2000 and 2010, according to CTIA—the Wireless Association, which represents manufacturers. But, the journal "Neuro-Oncology" reported in 2010 that in the U.S. overall, rates of cancer in parts of the brain that would be more highly exposed to radiofrequency radiation from cell phones had not increased.
Zada says that the current study underscores the need for additional research.
He says, "It is more evidence suggesting a possible association between brain tumors and cell phones." He goes on to say, "But, it's certainly not convincing that cell phones cause brain cancer."
The National Cancer Institute says on its website that cell phones emit radiofrequency energy, which can be absorbed by tissues closest to where the phone is held.
The Swedish study's lead researcher, Dr. Lennart Hardell, is one of the few researchers who include cordless phones when studying cell phones and cancer risk. He believes that emissions from the base stations of cordless phones can be problematic, especially when users sleep next to them.
Children may be the most vulnerable to wireless phone emissions, Hardell went on to say. They absorb more radiofrequency electromagnetic fields because of their small heads, thinner skulls, and higher brain conductivity.
Last May Reuters reported that according to Dr. Seung-Kwon Myung of South Korea's National Cancer Center, "Cell phones emit radiofrequency electromagnetic fields in the microwave spectrum, which may be cancer-causing, although that's not yet proven." Myung goes on to recommend, in addition to using a headset or speakerphone, holding the phone away from your body, text instead of calling, don't store the device in your pocket or under your pillow, and try only to use it when you have a strong signal.
The doctor went on to say, "Fewer signal bars mean the phone must try harder to broadcast a signal. Research shows that radiation exposure increases dramatically when cell phone signals are weak."
A couple of years ago The Inquisitr reported that a city council in Florida that unanimously passed a non-binding resolution, warning of the possible risk of cancer from cell phone use. A citizen who survived brain cancer attributed his illness to using his wireless device pressed against the side of his head. The resolution encourages residents to keep their cell phones at least one inch away from their heads while using them.
At this point, researchers don't know how far-reaching the malignant brain cancer risk may be for cordless and cell phone users—but the glioma discovery is one piece of the puzzle.
[Image via New York Daily News]