Cancer expert warns on mobile phones

Most entrepreneurs couldn’t live without their mobile phone. But could the humble mobile be killing you?

Most entrepreneurs couldn’t live without their mobile phone. But could the humble mobile be killing you?

Debate about the safety of mobile phones has been re-ignited by a US cancer expert, who sent 3000 staff a memo warning them to keep phones away from their heads and use hands-free devices whenever possible.

The extraordinary warning comes from Ronald Herberman, director of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute. His 10-point manifesto includes the following pieces of advice:

  • Don’t allow children to use a mobile phone, except for emergencies.
  • Avoid using your phone in places like a bus, where you can passively expose others to your phone’s electromagnetic fields.
  • Avoid carrying your phone on your body at all times. Do not keep it near your body at night such as under the pillow or on a bedside table, particularly if pregnant.
  • Switch sides regularly while communicating on your phone to spread out your exposure.
  • When possible, communicate via text messaging rather than making a call.

Herberman writes in his letter that he has become aware of a growing amount of scientific literature linking mobile phone use to health problems. “Although the evidence is still controversial, I am convinced that there are sufficient data to warrant issuing an advisory to share some precautionary advice on cell phone use.”

Rumours of mobile phones causing brain tumours and other forms of cancer have been around for years, but it hasn’t stopped Australian consumers. There are now 21 million mobile subscribers in Australia, for 20 million people.

But not everyone agrees with Herberman. The US Food and Drug Administration posted the following comment on its website: “If there is a risk from these products – and at this point we do not know that there is – it is probably very small.”

The CEO of Cancer Council Australia, Ian Oliver, told The Australian that short-term mobile phone use had not been associated with an increase in brain tumours.

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