Study fails to settle mobile health controversy

The radiation from mobile phones affects the central nervous system, brain functions and damages the DNA, but may not actually be bad for your health.

That is the conclusion of a study commissioned by telecommunications giant T-Mobile.

A panel of 25 experts based at the Julich Research Institute in Germany were asked to review existing scientific literature and report back on their findings.

The consultants suggested the radiation had varied effects on brain function, and in some cases the effects were actually positive.

They found shortened or prolonged reaction times and less or more cognitive mistakes, depending on a number of factors including the period of exposure.

The report also said that while mobile phones did have an effect on the central nervous system there was no evidence to indicate this was negative or in any way harmful to health.

Similarly, while there was some damage to DNA it was judged this did not pose a health threat as it did not lead to cell damage.

The report concluded there was still a need for further research in several areas.

Meanwhile, a separate study in Sweden suggests rural users could be at higher risk than their urban counterparts.

In areas of low population density masts are more widely dispersed and therefore have to use more powerful signals.

The research led by Professor Lennart Hardell of University Hospital in Orebro, Sweden indicates that this practice increases the risk for those living in the countryside.

The study looked at the cases of more than 1,400 adults who had suffered brain tumours.

Those from rural areas who had been using mobile phones for more than three years were three times more likely to be diagnosed with a brain tumour than their city-based counterparts.

The risk went up to four times after five years of use.

Hardell acknowledges this was a small study, however, and the results should be treated with caution until being duplicated on a larger scale.

The Swedish report is sure to further muddy the waters when it comes to a reliable planning policy on mobile phone masts in Britain, as it would seem to suggest health risks might actually be reduced by allowing a proliferation of base stations and antennae in rural regions.

By Sam Bond

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