If there is a health risk of using mobiles it is only small compared to a range of everyday activities, says professor

If there is a health risk from mobiles phone use it would be small compared to other risk factors facing people in their daily lives, Professor Mark Elwood told Science and Wireless in Melbourne yesterday.


Professor Elwood is Professor of Cancer and Epidemiology at the University of Auckland and presented an address called: “A Review of Epidemiology” What does the science tell the community the use of wireless in everyday life?”


He looked at a range of studies on mobiles and possible health effects, including the incidence of cancer, that had used different methodologies.


Professor Elwood said based on a review of the studies two possible conclusions could be drawn about mobile phones and the incidence of cancer:


  • There is no increased risk of cancer with the use of mobile phones and the single result from one category in the Interphone study, showing a 40 per cent increase in cancer in very high users – those who claimed to have used their mobiles for more than 12 hours a day – could be explained by chance, biases in the Interphone study or confounding factors.



  •  There is a small increased risk of cancer after more than 12 years of heavy mobile phone exposure.



“These two positions are defensible. I do not know which is true and I doubt there will be a quick answer. Both are plausible and either could be the truth,” Professor Elwood said.


“There is uncertainty, however, the risk compared to other things in life is small.”


Professor Elwood said the World Health Organization (WHO) advice was “perfectly reasonable” and if people had concerns they could follow that advice to limit their exposure or, equally, they could ignore it, “which is reasonable because there may be no risk at all”.


“I certainly would not criticise any parent who allowed their children to use mobiles. In fact, I would be more critical of parents who allowed their children to get too much sunlight because that is a proven carcinogen.”