After an extensive 11-year report came out squashing the link between mobile phone usage and cancer, a new report from French scientists may turn that on its head.
However, although it may raise a spectre previously thought banished, the emphasis this time is on cancer and heavy use.
In the British journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine they write that people who used their mobiles for "more than 15 hours each month over five years on average had between two and three times greater risk of developing glioma and meningioma tumours compared with people who rarely used their phones."
The link between glioma - a type of tumour made from gliol cells that account for 80% of all brain tumours - and long term mobile phone use has been hard to prove, but the new study aims to tackle that.
The new study looked at 253 cases of glioma and 194 cases of meningioma from four French departments between 2004 and 2006. They then compared these to 892 healthy people from the same local population.
"The comparison," reported The Guardian, "found a higher risk among those who used their phone intensively, especially among those who used it for their work, such as in sales. The duration of use in this category ranged from between two and 10 years, averaging at five years."
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AXA’s research found that 79% of people were able to correctly identify breast lumps as a potential indicator of cancer. But a lump or swelling in any part of the body, including the armpit, neck, abdomen, groin or chest area, is worth having checked by a doctor.
Diarrhoea or changes in bowel habits are most likely to be caused by a stomach bug or eating something that disagrees with you. But if you’re noticing changes that have lasted more than a few days, for example if your bowel movements are looser for three weeks or more, or you notice any blood when you’ve been to the toilet, then make an appointment to get it checked out.
A lot of people get mouth ulcers when their immune system is low or they’re stressed. Generally they’re nothing to worry about and, as the lining of the mouth regenerates itself every couple of weeks, shouldn’t last long. But any ulcer that hasn’t healed after three weeks merits attention from your doctor or dentist. The same goes for any sore or spot that lasts for several weeks without healing – get it checked by a doctor.
Many men find it more difficult to pass urine as they get older, needing to go more often or urgently or being unable to go when they need to. These problems are usually caused by an enlarged prostate, which is a common condition that is not in itself cause for concern. But occasionally these symptoms can be a sign of prostate cancer – either way, men experiencing these symptoms should see their GP. Similarly, while urinary tract infections are the most likely cause of women having pain or difficulty passing urine, this should pass relatively quickly. If it doesn’t, then any sudden urges to pass urine or the need to go more often should be discussed with your doctor.
It’s natural for most people’s weight to fluctuate over time. But if you haven’t instigated any changes in your diet or exercise regime and have obviously lost weight, then talk to your doctor. And if you’re experiencing heavy night sweats you should seek medical advice – these don’t always have a sinister cause, and can be brought about by certain infections or medications, but they’re worth checking.
If you’ve coughed up any blood, you should see your doctor, regardless of the amount of blood or frequency. It can be a sign of lung cancer, so needs to be checked out.
Most of us will experience coughs or croaky voices at some point, normally when we’ve had a cold. But as with many other changes to your body, anything that hasn’t gone away after three weeks or so should be investigated.
AXA’s research found women were more likely than men to identify key cancer warning signs, including breast lumps, changes in bowel habits and irregular moles. But for both men and women, ensuring you’re aware of symptoms to keep an eye out for is important. Knowledge is power: understanding what you’re looking for means you can any changes checked out quickly.
AXA’s research found only 6% of men and 3% of women check their bodies daily for anything unusual. But understanding what’s normal for your own body is essential if you’re to spot when anything has changed. If you do notice changes that are persisting for a long time, or causing you pain and discomfort, then see your GP.
A sizeable 61% of people AXA spoke to admitted they’d delayed seeing their doctor when they spotted changes that could be potential flags for cancer. But early detection of any problems can make a huge difference if any treatment is then needed. Similarly, if changes are harmless your doctor will be able to reassure you. Overall, the sooner you go to see your GP, the better.
However, the study also found several inconsistencies such as in the cases of those who used their phones heavily, the tumour occurred in the opposite side to which the phone was held.
Researchers acknowledge that "the observation of potential long-term effects will be needed."
For now, we are better off going by the results of the Mobile Telecommunications and Health Research (MTHR) programme which looked at the possible health risks associated with mobile phone technology, reported The Daily Mail. The £13.6 million programme has been jointly funded by the UK government and the telecommunications industry.Prof David Coggon, chairman of MTHR said: "This independent programme is now complete, and despite exhaustive research, we have found no evidence of risks to health from the radio waves produced by mobile phones or their base stations. Thanks to the research conducted within the programme, we can now be much more confident about the safety of modern telecommunications systems."