2-Year Study Finds Possible
Cell Phone Danger To Brain

By Victoria Fletcher
Consumer Correspondent

Radiation from mobile phones causes changes in the brain which could pose risks to health, an authoritative two-year study has concluded.
In ground-breaking research on the effects of radiation on the brain - which has for the first time used human cells rather than rats - scientists found that even low-level emissions from handsets affects cells.
They believe the changes could disable a safety barrier in the body which is meant to protect the brain from harmful substances in the blood. The scientists are now calling for further research to discover how important the effects on health might be.
The study, conducted by the Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority in Finland, found that exposing human cells to one hour of mobile phone radiation triggered a response which normally only occurs when cells are being damaged.
This led the cells which make up blood vessel walls to shrink, allowing tiny molecules to pass through into brain tissue.
The report's conclusion warns: "The possible RF-EMF (radiation-induced breakage of the blood-brain barrier), if occurring repeatedly over a long period of time, might become a health hazard because of the possible extra-capillary accumulation of molecules that might cause brain tissue damage."
The study is a an important step forward in mobile phone research because it has proved biochemical changes, which were found to occur in rats, also occur in human cells. Scientists now need to discover how the human body reacts to such changes and whether it can cope, or if there are serious health threats.
Professor Darius Leszczynski, who will present the research at a conference in Canada this month, said he could confirm that radiation from mobile phones does affect the delicate make-up of human cells. "We have shown there are biochemical changes in human cells," he told the Evening Standard. "Other studies in animals have shown this can lead to a leakage in the blood brain barrier.
"So what I believe is that we will find these leaks occur in humans too. What we do not know is the extent of these leaks and whether they have an effect on our health.
"Our bodies may be able to cope with it so there will be no risks. But it could be found that, over time, the effects on health could be much more significant."
Two years ago, a government inquiry into mobile phones led by Sir William Stewart concluded there was no evidence of a risk to health. But he advised that caution is taken over the use of mobiles by children until more evidence on the impact on health is gathered.
Despite multi-million pound research across the world since then, the effects of long-term use still remains unclear. But recently, a handful of studies have begun to raise questions over safety. A survey of 11,000 people in Sweden and Norway found that many suffer from headaches and tiredness after using the gadgets.
Another study, by Swedish cancer specialist Lennart Hardell, suggested that using the old analogue mobiles, popular in the early Nineties, increased the risk of cancer.
His research is now at the centre of a lawsuit in the US. Judges are deciding whether it provides enough proof of a link between cancer and mobile phones for claimants to take manufacturers to court.
However, the growing body of research on mobiles and health is leading some countries to consider action. China is debating whether to force phone companies to reduce the levels of radiation. British experts said last night there was no need for panic. They insisted that more research was needed.
© Associated Newspapers Ltd., 19 June 2002


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