Study cell phone radiation causing cancer
The Age Online
Journalist: Adrian Rollins
September 9, 1998

With up to a third of Australians now using mobile phones, the Federal Government has commissioned a study to determine if they damage users’ brains.

With almost six million Australians connected to the mobile phone network, concerns have increased that they could be bombarding brains with harmful doses of electromagnetic radiation.

Yesterday the parliamentary secretary to the federal Health Minister, Ms Trish Worth, announced a $1million grant for the study.

The research, to be conducted by Adelaide’s Institute of Medical and Veterinary Science, will involve exposing genetically modified, cancer-prone mice to electromagnetic radiation.

Ms Worth said that by 2001 about eight million Australians and 400million people worldwide would be using mobile phones.

“While the jury is still out on their effects, this issue deserves money and resources and we’ve committed both,” she said.

Professor Barrie Vernon-Roberts, who is leading the research, said the study would be “definitive: can mobile phone-type radiation cause cancer in animal systems?”

He said the two-year study, the only one of its kind being undertaken in the world, was being conducted with the knowledge of the World Health Organization.

He said the project would build on a previous study by his institute that indicated the possibility of mobile phone radiation causing cancer.

Health scares associated with the use of mobile phones have been triggered in the past by research into possible links between phone usage and brain “hot spots” or even tumors.

In January, a Fremantle cancer specialist, Dr Andrew Davidson, claimed the incidence of brain tumors had risen with an increase in the number of mobile phone users. He found an increase in the incidence of brain tumors from six per 100,000 in 1982 to eight per 100,000 a decade later, coinciding with the introduction of mobile phones.

Telstra and the Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association yesterday welcomed the study while pointing out that 40 years of research had failed to establish any adverse effects of electro-magnetic radiation on humans.

A former Telstra scientist, Dr Bruce Hocking, said the study was welcome but would not be definitive. Because the research focused on the cancer-causing effects of electromagnetic radiation it could make no finding on other biological effects.