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Since many cancerous tumors take decades to develop, experts say it's impossible to conclude cellphones have no long-term health risks. The studies conducted so far haven't tracked people for longer than about a decade.
Cellphones send signals to nearby towers via radio frequency waves, a form of energy similar to FM radio waves and microwaves. But the radiation produced by cellphones cannot directly damage DNA and is different from stronger types of radiation like X-rays or ultraviolet light. At very high levels, radio frequency waves from cellphones can heat up body tissue, but that is not believed to damage human cells.
Some experts recommended people use a headset or earpiece if they are worried about the possible health dangers of cellphones. "If there is a risk, most of it goes away with a wireless earpiece," said Otis Brawley, chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society.
Brawley said people should focus on the real health hazards of cellphones. "Cellphones may cause brain tumors but they kill far more people through automobile accidents," he said. Brawley added it was also reasonable to limit children's use of cellphones since their brains are still developing.
Earlier this year, a U.S. National Institutes of Health study found that cellphone use can speed up brain activity, but it is unknown whether that has any dangerous health effects.
The cellphone industry trade group, CTIA-The Wireless Association, pointed to two U.S. agencies that have found no evidence cellphones are linked to cancer -- the Food and Drug Administration and the Federal Communications Commission.
The WHO's cancer research agency has reviewed more than 900 occupational exposures, chemicals and other agents since 1971, classifying their link to cancer by labeling them from carcinogenic to probably not carcinogenic. The American Cancer Society has estimated that only about 6 percent of cancers are related to environmental causes and most of that is on-the-job occupational exposure.
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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