The National Toxicology Program (NTP) has released the results of one of its largest and most expensive studies to explore a potential correlation between mobile phone usage and cancer.
NTP researchers subjected rats and mice to high levels of radio frequency radiation for nine hours a day for two years – they were also exposed to the radiation before their birth.
As a result of this exposure, 5% to 7% of the male rats developed malignant schwannomas, a type of nerve tumour in their hearts. 2% to 3% of male rats developed malignant gliomas, a fatal form of brain cancer.
None of the rats in the control group developed any of the above symptoms, leading the researchers to conclude that there is “clear evidence” of a link between mobile phone use and heart schwannomas and “some evidence” of a link with brain tumours.
In a statement, John Bucher, NTP senior scientist, said: “We believe that the link between radio-frequency radiation and tumours in male rats is real.”
Cancer Risk Only Present Under Specific Conditions
Technology has developed rapidly since the study was begun in 1999, modern mobile phones use a different frequency that has more trouble penetrating the human body.
The rodents were exposed to radiation at 900 megahertz, a frequency long out of use. Therefore, unless an individual’s phone is very outdated – still using 2G- the risk is considerably reduced.
Therefore, any health concerns arising from the study apply mainly to 90s early adopters. However, some experts feel that even a small demonstrated rise in cancer risk could have wide implications when considering the vast number of people using mobile phones daily.
In the study, the rodents’ exposure to the radiation was not entirely comparable to that of a human mobile phone user. In a press release, Bucher said: “By contrast, people are mostly exposed in specific local tissues close to where they hold the phone. In addition, the exposure levels and durations in our studies were greater than what people experience.”
The nine-hour exposure for the rats is considerably longer than that of heavy mobile phone users.