Understanding the science
Is the jury still out on the health risks of mobile phones?
We sometimes hear in the press that the “jury is out” when it comes to the health risks of mobile phones. We hear one day about a study showing adverse health effects then another that a research has given them the all clear.
What are the public to do in the face of this uncertainty?
At WiredChild we wanted to investigate for ourselves. This is what we found:
1. All the independently-funded studies that included longer term users (10 years or more use) have shown an association between brain tumour incidence and mobile phone use.
In a number of studies the risks for some types of tumours is doubled or even quadrupled. The only studies that have not shown such a link were funded by the mobile phone industry or only analysed short-term duration of use. See the studies here...
Mobile phones have only been used widely since the late 1990’s so the early studies, mostly done in the early 2000's, didn’t involve long term phone users. They were done when it was too early for the association to show up. This has clouded the picture for the media and the public.
3. Not all studies are independent.
Have a look at the list of brain tumour studies to see which ones are independently-funded. The independently-funded studies that included long-term mobile phone users found an association between mobile phone use and brain tumours, while mostly industry-linked studies found no association, normally having only studied short-term users. One study has demonstrated statistically that the funding source is linked to the results found...When an industry wants to discourage concerns about safety, it can muddy the waters by funding research that shows no association, thereby leaving the press and the public confused and uncertain whether they need to act. Sometimes it is not obvious that they have funded the research. Read more...
The big corporates with significant financial interests in the mobile phone and wireless markets, have skilled PR and other staff able to work the system to the advantage of their corporate interest. Independent scientists and public interest groups, like us, rarely have the resources to counter this effect. You can help by donating here...
Some studies have small samples. While this reduces the weight they should be given, in our view a small independent study is sometimes more trustworthy than a larger industry-funded study.
There is now almost no independent funding of research into the effects of wireless technology in the UK. The industry-funded studies dominate in terms of number and consequently dominate the way the public health agencies assess the risk and the way the media reports the risk. Read more...