U.S. finds 'clear evidence' cellphone radiation causes tumours in rats

Leslie Hanson
November 4, 2018

A National Institutes of Health study released on Thursday warns that cell phone radiation can cause cancers of the heart, brain and adrenal glands. But the link between cell phones and cancer in male rats was undeniable. The rodents were exposed to radiation nine hours a day for two years at a frequency equivalent to second generation cell phones from the 1990s, which is when the study started, The New York Times reports.

In addition, the entire bodies of the mice were exposed to RFR during the study, as compared to the localized exposure that humans get while using their gadgets.

What's more, the rodents were exposed to cellphone radiation - known as radio-frequency radiation - at greater levels, and for much longer periods, than what people experience, the researchers said.

In the NTP studies, the report notes, exposure was way more than what happens through average duration of cellphone usage.

"We believe that the link between radio frequency radiation and tumors in male rats is real, and the external experts agreed", said Bucher.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration had asked for the study to be conducted on radio frequency radiation (RFR) emissions of wireless communication devices for several reasons: the potential for health effects of long-term exposure had not been comprehensively tested; epidemiology and toxicology studies had yielded mixed results, and the studies that were conducted on laboratory animals were limited in their scope. A =level such as this, four times higher than the maximum power level permitted, rarely if ever occurs with typical cell phone use.

Costing $30m, the studies took 10 years to complete and are the most comprehensive assessment, to date, of health effects in animals exposed to RFR with modulations used in 2G and 3G mobile phones. 2G and 3G networks were standard when the studies were designed and are still used for phone calls and texting.

Interestingly, the researchers found that the male mice that were exposed to cellphone radiation actually lived longer than those that were not exposed. "This may be explained by an observed decrease in chronic kidney problems that are often the cause of death in older rats", Wyde said.

For the study, the team housed the animals in chambers specifically designed for the study. RFR levels ranged from 1.5 to six watts per kg in rats, and 2.5 to 10 watts per kg in mice.

Future studies will focus on developing measurable physical indicators, or biomarkers, of potential effects from RFR.

"Animal studies like this one contribute to our discussions on this topic, but we must remember the study was not created to test the safety of cellphone use in humans, so we can not draw conclusions about the risks of cellphone use from it", Dr. Jeffrey Shuren, director of the Food and Drug Administration's Center for Devices and Radiological Health, who was not involved with the study, said in a statement. Professor Emeritus Anthony Miller MD, FRCP, FRCP (C), FFPH, former Director, National Cancer Institute of Canada Clinical Trials Group and former member World Health Organization Expert Advisory Panel on Cancer 2005-2015 (Professor Miller was also former Director Epidemiology Unit National Cancer Institute of Canada; former Director, World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Evaluation of Screening for Cancer; former Chairman Scientific Advisory Committee, Occupational Cancer Research Centre 2009-2017).

Last February, the National Toxicology Program said there was a small increase in an unusual type of heart tumour in male rats, but not in mice or female rats. Subscribe to one or more of the NIEHS news lists to stay current on NIEHS news, press releases, grant opportunities, training, events, and publications.

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