RESEARCH LINKS CELL PHONES TO EYE CANCER
Monday, January 15,2001
By BILL HOFFMANN
A new study has linked mobile phones to human cancer for the first time – with research showing three times as many instances of eye cancers among people who regularly use the devices.
Radiation emitted from mobile phones has long been known to temporarily alter the workings of brain cells.
But there was previously no evidence that showed permanent damage to health.
If confirmed by subsequent research, the findings may lead to thousands of lawsuits by people with eye and, possibly, brain cancers.
The report – published in the journal Epidemiology and The Sunday Times of London – was prepared by a team from the
The research involved a form of eye cancer called uveal melanoma, in which tumors form in the layer that makes up the iris and base of the retina.
Lead researcher Dr. Andreas Stang examined 118 people with uveal melanoma and obtained details about their use of digital mobile phones.
This was compared with a control group of 475 people without the disease.
To prevent bias, the researchers were not told whether the person they were examining suffered from cancer or was healthy.
When the results were analyzed, they showed that the cancer victims had a much higher rate of mobile-phone use, although Stang cautions that his study needs confirmation.
The mechanism by which the radiation might cause cancer is uncertain, but it is known that the watery contents of the eye assist the absorption of radiation.
Other research has shown that cells called melanocytes, found in the uveal layer, started growing and dividing more rapidly when exposed to microwave radiation.
Since uveal melanoma starts within such cells, there is a ready-made mechanism by which mobile-phone radiation might help to initiate cancer, especially in people with a genetic predisposition toward the condition.