Reporter 444, 6 December 1999

New study probes mobile phone risks

University researchers are launching the largest study of its kind to answer one of the biggest questions of the telecommunications revolution - do mobile phones cause cancer?

Thousands of people diagnosed with a brain tumour over the next three years will be questioned about their use of mobile phones by epidemiologist Tricia McKinney, who leads a team including Ray Cartwright in Leeds and members in the Midlands and Scotland. The use of mobiles by an equal number of healthy people will also be assessed and the results compared.

People’s exposure to radiation, chemicals and electromagnetic fields will also be probed in the study. Brain tumours are becoming increasingly common in developed countries with approximately 3,800 new cases identified in the UK each year.

"The causes of brain tumours are unknown," said Dr McKinney. "And these need to be identified before preventative measures can be taken."

Sources of potentially harmful radiation even include electric motors found in equipment such as sewing machines. The study is part of a world-wide project co-ordinated by the International Agency for Research on Cancer in Lyon, France.

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