Cell Phones Cause Headaches & Fatigue, Claims Report
Newsbytes News Network
Journalist: Sylvia Dennis
May 18, 1998

A Swedish study into the use of mobile phones in Sweden and Norway claims a probable link between the use of mobiles and malaise’s such as fatigue, headaches, and tingling, plus heat sensations among users.

The Swedish National Institute for Working Life interviewed around 11,000 mobile phone users to reach its conclusions, which are almost certain to cause controversy in the cellular phone industry.

One interesting finding from the survey was that users of mobiles in a business environment, who tend to be the main users of cellular, often have a stressful lifestyle. This, the institute says, could be a contributing factor, although the report notes that this issue fell outside the remit of the research.

And, in what many have perceived to be a clear move to cover itself against any possible misinterpretation of the results, the institute notes that “further studies are required to verify our finding and to explore the role of the various physical factors.”

However, the report does note that there is a demonstrable statistical associations between both calling time and number of calls per day, and the occurrence of warmth sensation as well as headache and fatigue were found both among (analog) NMT users and GSM (global system for mobile communications) users in both countries.

Newsbytes notes that interesting statistics to emerge from the report include the fact that a GSM user using his/her phone for between 15 and 60 minutes per day was 1.6 times more likely to complain of fatigue than someone who used the phone for less than two minutes each day.

Once users start going beyond 60 minutes, however, wide differences in the propensity to report fatigue, for example, start to appear. Users using their GSM handsets in excess of 60 minutes were 4.1 times more likely to complain of fatigue.

When it comes to headaches, the differences became more pronounced, Newsbytes notes. Users in the 15-60 minutes usage category were 2.7 times more likely to report a headache than their two minutes a day usage colleagues, and 6.3 times more likely if they chattered for more than 60 minutes per day.

As reports of the findings surfaced this morning in Europe, many cellular industry observers were dismissing the report as inconclusive, suggesting that no clear link has been establishing human problems and mobile phone usage.

In August last year, Newsbytes notes, Belgacom Mobile published major report sayings that mobile phones cause no physical harm to users.

That 1997 report caused more than a little controversy in the cellular industry, Newsbytes notes, as, ever since the furor surrounding the effect of cellular radiation first surfaced in 1995, the only general conclusion from the scientific community has been that no-one truly knows the long-term effect of radiation on people’s brains.

Belgacom’s research compared with the fact that Vodafone Australia is pouring significant amounts of money into similar research in Australia. That research started in May of last year, when the Australian cellular comms company called for more factual reporting of the subject in the media. The full report has still not been published, Newsbytes notes.