We all know that use of mobile phones can be damaging to our sleep and our general levels of productivity at work, but are they detrimental to our health?
Two new studies released today have gone some way to dispelling concerns about the link between mobiles and dangerous tumours, finding normal radiation levels aren’t harmful to humans.
But the conclusions of the research, from the National Institutes of Health’s National Toxicology Programme, aren’t exactly what you would call black and white.
The team subjected rats to high levels of radiation at 2G and 3G frequencies, the type still used in voice calls and texting in the UK and USA, for ten minute periods for over nine hours each day.
In one study some male rats did develop cancer tumours, known as malignant schwannomas around their hearts. And Professor John Bucher, senior scientist on the study, said: “The tumours we saw in these studies are similar to tumours previously reported in some studies of frequent cell phone users.”
While this might seem concerning, none of the female rats developed these tumours and in another study of mice, neither gender had symptoms.
Not only that but newborn rats and their mothers who had reduced weights then went on to grow to normal size. And exposed rats lived longer than those who weren’t exposed.
To an observer this conflicting conclusion might seem concerning but the experts say that we should actually see that there is no clear pattern of harm here. And definitely no short-term effects of mobile phones that we should worry about.
Although they did not test 4G or 5G signals (used for streaming video and downloading attachments on many networks) the team said that they were testing exaggerated levels of 2G and 3G radiation, well above the approved levels for mobile phones.
And, most mobile phones do not even get near the upper levels anyway.
In spite of all this, the rat model doesn’t necessarily translate to humans anyway because rodents are much smaller and have to endure the radiation all over their bodies and not just at their ears or thighs (when you have your phone in your pocket).
Bucher said: “These findings should not be directly extrapolated to human cell phone usage.”