HEALTH RISKS OF MOBILE PHONE USE
Further research into the safety of mobile phone use is being recommended by an independent expert group in the United Kingdom.
It has been claimed that mobile phones can cause brain cancer, sleeping problems, headaches, memory loss, and nausea. Changes to the blood-brain barrier and blood pressure have also been measured in mobile phone users.
However, the report of the Independent Expert Group on Mobile Phones, organised by the UK Department of Health, has found insufficient evidence to back up these claims. But does believe there is enough anecdotal evidence to justify further research and to take a cautious approach to the use of mobiles.
The only established risk for mobile phone use is the risk of an accident while driving.
A review in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) says mobile phones have a power output of about 1 W, and are estimated to increase temperature in the brain by 0.1 degrees Celsius. Although, this is unlikely to cause any detrimental effects.
However, research from several countries shows that mobile phones have other effects on brain cells such as changes in the permeability of the blood-brain barrier, the excitability of nerve cells, and the ability of rats to learn mazes.
In the absence of strong evidence, the Expert Group on Mobile Phones recommends that power output be minimised on mobile phones and that they should be labeled with power ratings.
Research which showed that mice exposed to microwave radiation for 18 months suffered an increase in tumours is now being repeated.
The editorial in the BMJ says there is still no robust evidence for this and there is no biological reasoning behind it.
However, it points out the risk of having a car accident while using a mobile phone is equivalent to having a blood alcohol level of 0.05 percent. The risk is the same when a hands-free phone is used instead, which implies that the conversation itself is to blame for distracting the driver.
On the other hand, it points out many lives have been saved at car accident scenes due to rapid reporting of heart attacks and serious injuries from mobile phones.