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These long-haired scientists do love to scare us, don't they? While we are happily warming our thumbs on our latest super-smartphones, every once in a while they pop up with theories of mobile phone signals messing up with our brains and causing brain tumors. Unaware that their claims trigger stupid, sentimentally written chain messages, urging us to listen to our calls from our left ear and forward to our loved ones so that.... blah! blah! blah! We would of course, standby our beloved phones, hoping that they are declared safe. Are they?
Wise old WHO stepped in for us recently and declared that the largest study to date on links between mobile phone use and certain types of brain cancer has proved inconclusive. The 10-year study of 13,000 people, which was started in 2000, has been criticised because mobile phone companies provided 25% of the funding. "The study doesn't reveal an increased risk, but we can't conclude that there is no risk because there are enough findings that suggest a possible risk," the study's chief author, Elisabeth Cardis, told reporters of AFP news agency.
The study looked at both healthy users of mobile phones and those with two types of brain cancer - glioma and miningioma tumors. There were suggestions of an increased risk of glioma, and much less so meningioma, in the users with highest decile (10 per cent) of cumulative call time, in subjects who reported phone use on the same side of the head as their tumor. Strangely though, the study declares these 10 per cent to be people who use their phone to call for more than 30 minutes a day. These stats seem seriously doubtable. Going by it, almost everyone we know is in that 10 percent.
As is clear, the data was biased and error prone because the method of testing was seriously weird - instead of monitoring the patients, they were told to remember 10-years of usage. Absurd! And they were told to remember which ear they used to listen these 10-years worth of calls. Absolutely crazy! Had the committee been headed by a geek instead of scientist, he'd probably have installed a neat little app that would have tracked the usage and mailed it to him to be neatly collected in a Google Docs spreadsheet. And then burned it all if it did prove that mobiles cause brain cancer.
Even the director of the WHO's International Agency for Research on Cancer, which co-ordinated the study, said changing patterns of mobile phone use and lower emissions from handsets since the research began in 2000 meant further investigation into the phones and brain cancer was needed. Already, a bigger study of the health effects of mobile phone use, involving 250,000 participants over 20-30 years, has been launched in the UK last month.
Someone go tell these researchers, that they are causing much more damage to our brain cells than mobiles would ever do!