While this suggestion has been dismissed by a number of researchers, studies undertaken over a number of years by the US National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences appears to have found evidence that, at the outset, would appear to confirm these fears.
According to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), while animal studies contribute to discussions on the topic, "this study was not created to test the safety of cell phone use in humans, so we can not draw conclusions about the risks of cell phone use from it". The findings are unlikely to satisfy many people.
Are you concerned your mobile phone could give you cancer?
The male rats in the study were exposed to radio frequency radiation like that used in 2G and 3G cell service.
"These results provide conclusive evidence that cell phone radiation can cause cancer", Moskowitz said. In February, the NTP said there was some evidence this happened but now says the evidence is clear. Among the female mice, however, the evidence was unclear as to whether the cancers observed in them are associated with RFR. They were especially less prone to a type of inflammatory kidney disease.
Later, the conclusions of the research and its presentation in the press was criticized by dozens of scientists, some of which are considered statements to the media exaggerated and intentionally intimidating, while others have found a lot of methodological problems in the NTP publications. And mice were not as strongly affected as rats seemed to be.
"We believe that the link between radio frequency radiation and tumours in male rats is real", Bucher noted.
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"Exposure to radiofrequency radiation has always been thought to be of no health concern as long as the energy level was low and didn't cause heating of the tissues", Bucher said.
In the studies, the rats were exposed to RFR starting from when they were in the womb.
The study involved radio frequencies long out of routine use.
"Not carrying the phone in your trousers, or your bra or your shirt pocket, and not allowing children to use cellphones, because they're most vulnerable to this radiation; it penetrates deeper into their bodies", says Scarato. And the highest radiation level used in the study was four times higher than the maximum level allowed in people.
"When new studies or information becomes available, the FDA conducts thorough evaluations of the data to continually inform our thinking", said Dr. Jeffrey Shuren, director of the FDA's Center for Devices and Radiological Health.
Experts say it is not unusual for cancer patterns to vary between sexes in people and animals, including the study's mice and rats. As scientists often say, more study is needed.
During a telephone news briefing, Bucher, the senior scientist at the toxicology agency, said evidence of DNA damage from the current study needed further examination. Carl Court/Getty Images News/Getty ImagesBut even the American Cancer Society sees no need for increased concern in light of the study.
However, those tempted to toss away today's most important tool of communications may want to consider that the study's researchers did specify the levels of radiation the rats were subjected to were not comparable to those humans are exposed to.