Fertility and pregnancy * Babies and children

Phone masts not linked to child cancer

Study probes effect of mobile phone masks on pregnant women Cancer clusters not found

A comprehensive British study into the possible effects of mobile phone masts on unborn babies has found no link or any evidence that the masts cause harm.

Previous reports had suggested that there was a possible "clustering" effect of cancer cases around the base stations which transmit the radiation needed to make mobile phone calls possible. But these results have been difficult to interpret due to the small number of cases involved and other factors.

And so far no mechanism explaining how mobile phone radiation could cause cancer has been found.

So the team from Imperial College, London set out to investigate the risk of early childhood cancers, such as brain tumours and leukaemia, and proximity to a mobile phone base station during pregnancy.

The studied over 1,300 children under the age of four who had been registered with cancer between 1999 and 2001. This data was then matched with four different control groups of other children taken from the national birth register.

In turn all this information was cross-checked with data on all mobile phone base station antennas across Britain from 1996-2001.

By measuring the distance from the nearest base station to each child's address and linking this to the power output of the mast, and also other masts nearby, the researchers found that there was NO link between the position of the masts and the number of childhood cancers.

The authors acknowledge that their focus was early childhood cancers and therefore did not include longer term or other potential health effects that have been associated with mobile phone use. However, they conclude: "The results of our study should help to place any future reports of cancer clusters near mobile phone base stations in a wider public health context."

Commenting on these results, John Bithell from the Childhood Cancer Research Group at the University of Oxford says that parents should not worry about living near mobile phone masts: "Moving away from a mast, with all its stresses and costs, cannot be justified on health grounds in the light of current evidence."

The study is published on the BMJ's web site at http:///www.bmj.com

This article was published on Wed 23 June 2010

Image © GoodMood Photo - Fotolia.com

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