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Cellphones Communications Medicine

Biggest Study On Cellphone Health Effects Launched in Europe 109

An anonymous reader writes "The biggest study to date into the effects of cellphone usage on long-term health was launched today, aiming to track at least a quarter of a million of people in five European countries for up to 30 years. The Cohort Study on Mobile Communications (COSMOS) differs from previous attempts to examine links between mobile phone use and diseases such as cancer and neurological disorders in that it will follow users' behaviour in real time. Most other large-scale studies have centred around asking people already suffering from cancer or other diseases about their previous cellphone use. Researchers said long-term monitoring will provide more time for diseases to develop, since many cancers take 10 or 15 years for symptoms to appear."
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Biggest Study On Cellphone Health Effects Launched in Europe

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  • 30 years... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Yvanhoe ( 564877 ) on Friday April 23, 2010 @06:30AM (#31952910) Journal
    In 30 years, brain cancer may very well be a curable disease.
  • Re:Control group? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 23, 2010 @07:17AM (#31953126)

    And I'm another. While they're useful, I rather like that if someone wants to get hold of me they have to make an effort. Having a cellphone makes people assume that I'm available to talk to or text all the time, and if I don't answer or, worse yet, turn it off? It's inconceivable to them!
    Seriously, I have been told by people I know that if I only had a cellphone, they'd be sending me text messages all the time. Apparently that's supposed to be an encouragement to get one...

  • Re:What, now? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by nedlohs ( 1335013 ) on Friday April 23, 2010 @07:25AM (#31953170)

    I use my cell phone for about 2 hours a month. My wife uses her cell phone for about that much a day.

    I'm pretty sure they can find enough people with different usage levels such that unless there's a very low threshold for risk increase and there's no increase in risk with more use they'll be able to see an affect (if there is one at all).

  • Re:Control group? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ShadowRangerRIT ( 1301549 ) on Friday April 23, 2010 @07:52AM (#31953294)
    Actually, I doubt there will be a strict dividing line between control and test. They'll use their cell phone records to determine how many minutes they are on the phone per month (possibly taking into account self reported use of hands free devices). You can't tell thousands of people that they may not buy a cell phone for the next 30 years, but you can track usage, and determine if the people talking for half an hour per month have more or less cancer than the people talking for three hours a day.
  • Re:Control group? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by wvmarle ( 1070040 ) on Friday April 23, 2010 @08:28AM (#31953530)

    Exactly what I was thinking. Especially as there are no Amish or so in Europe.

    Likely there will be no "control" as such and also no placebo group (after all proper medical research is done double blind with the real thing and placebo controls - however a placebo mobile phone just doesn't work), but there will be people that use their mobiles less than an hour a month, and others that don't put them down other than to change batteries. You can easily look at the difference between those two groups and still see whether mobile phone usage increases the risk. If there is a cancer risk, then more usage will increase this risk.

    And another option for a "control" is the period until say 1980 - when mobile phones did not exist. How about brain cancer rates in that period of time compared to now?

    Actually I think researchers should be able to find some effect simply by looking at total (brain)cancer rates in the population compared to mobile phone usage. Did the cancer rate, or the ratio of brain cancers vs. other cancers, increase over the last few decades?

    Most Western countries keep lots of statistics including all kinds of medical records, so such a research should be relatively simple to carry out (simple as in: the data is there already, just has to be compiled together - just a lot of work). I can't believe it hasn't been done yet, still I don't recall having read anything about such a project let alone that it would show brain cancer increases together with mobile phone use increases.

  • Re:Control group? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 23, 2010 @08:40AM (#31953664)

    That is the only reason I don't have a cell phone. If I end up giving out my number to friends/family, it is assumed that my phone will be on and with me at all times. At least with my land line, it is assumed that if I don't pick up, I was away from the phone.

  • Re:Control group? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by maxume ( 22995 ) on Friday April 23, 2010 @09:09AM (#31954062)

    There are more than a few Amish that use cell phones.

  • by SciBrad ( 1119589 ) on Friday April 23, 2010 @10:13AM (#31954882)
    Cannot break apart molecules. How exactly would an electromagnetic wave that can't ionize anything cause cancer? Usually to cause a cancer from radiation you need to cause some sort of ionization damage as far as I'm aware. Physics quite strongly says that these microwaves do not have the proper energy to do this, even if you have a lot of them. People can go on about 'heating effects' which is a common response I see to the non-ionizing radiation bit, but if that were the case, prolonged exposure to heat packs should also cause cancer. Luckily the body is quite good at dissipating heat. Based on physics there is no plausible mechanism for a cell phone to cause a cancer. The radiation just isn't energetic enough to break any bonds, and that is what counts.

It is clear that the individual who persecutes a man, his brother, because he is not of the same opinion, is a monster. - Voltaire