Cancer researcher: Children's cellular phone use should be limited
Dr. Sigal Sadetzki heads Israeli group in study conducted in 16 countries says standards should be reassessed and tightened.
The Israeli doctor involved in a recent international study that has found a link between cellular phones and cancer says she believes cell-phone use should be limited among children. Dr. Sigal Sadetzki, who heads the Israeli group in the study, which was conducted in 16 countries, says standards should be reassessed and tightened to prevent radiation from cell phones, and new technology should be developed to lessen radiation.
According to Sadetzki, director of the Gertner Institute for Epidemiology and Health Policy Research at Sheba Medical Center, Tel Hashomer, current regulations do not relate to cancer as caused by radiation but to the health risks posed by the instrument heating up.
"The time is past when it could be said that this technology does not cause damage; apparently it damages health," Sadetzki told Haaretz on Saturday. However, Sadetzki added: "Cell phones are already here, they have advantages and now we have to learn how to use them wisely."
The study, published Friday in the American Journal of Epidemiology, found a clear link between the use of cell phones and the development of cancerous and benign tumors in the saliva glands. The study was funded by the European Union and the cellular companies, who according to the researchers, were not involved in determining the course of the research.
The Israeli study examined all 460 patients who were diagnosed with benign and cancerous tumors of the saliva glands between 2001 and 2003. The patients were compared to a control group of 1,266 people in Israel who did not have tumors. All the participants filled out detailed questionnaires in which they were asked about their cell-phone habits.
As the researchers expected, no increased risk of cancer was noted among the research group as a whole, comprised of patients who used cell phones to various extents. However, upon examining specific groups, they found that for those who tended to hold the phone on one side and who used the phone frequently or for prolonged periods, the risk of saliva-gland cancer increased by 50 to 58 percent compared to people who did not use a cell phone regularly. According to the research, the more this group used the cell phone, the greater their chance of contracting the disease.
The study also found a heightened risk among people who used their cell phone frequently and for prolonged periods in rural areas where there are relatively few antennas; the radiation emitted by the phone is higher is higher in these areas.
A number of studies in recent years indicate a rise in the risk of tumors in the auditory nerve, the brain and the saliva glands for long-time cell-phone users. However the present study shows the correlation more clearly. "It may be because in Israel we had a relatively large group of patients and because these were heavy users. In all the comparisons we made, use of cell phones was found to be much greater than the rest of the countries."
Dr. Nadav Davidovitch, a public health physician from Ben-Gurion University, who did not take part in the study, told Haaretz on Saturday that the findings underscored the argument that the "principle of preventive caution" should be applied to the use of cell phones. Davidovitch and Sadetzki say that to test the correlation between cell-phone use and a disease that usually appears years after the exposure, many years might pass before a connection is securely proven between the phones and cancer or other health risks.