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Some Early Mobiles Reportedly Pose Brain Tumor Risk Thu Aug 22, 1:09 PM ET

By Anna Peltola

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) – Long-term users of some first generation cell phones face up to 80 percent greater risk of developing brain tumors than those who did not use the phones, a new Swedish study shows.

The study, published in the European Journal of Cancer Prevention, looked at 1,617 Swedish patients diagnosed with brain tumors between 1997 and 2000, comparing them with a similar control group without brain tumors.

Researchers found that those who had used Nordic Mobile Telephone handsets had a 30 percent higher risk of developing brain tumors than people who had not used that type of phone, particularly on the side of the brain used during calls. For people using the phones for more than 10 years, the risk was 80 percent greater.

“Our present study showed an increased risk for brain tumors among users of analog cellular telephones. For digital cellular phones and cordless phones the results showed no increased risk overall within a five-year latency period,” the study said.

Two major mobile phone manufacturers disputed the findings of an increased risk of cancer.

The world’s biggest mobile producer, Finland’s Nokia ( news – web sites) Oyj, which still produces two models of phones working in the Nordic Mobile Telephone standard, said scores of other studies conducted on the health effects of cell phones showed no evidence of health hazards for users.

“There have been close to 200 studies done on different areas of mobile phones and in the light of those and the way the scientific evidence is, there is no health risk in using mobile phones,” Marianne Holmlund, communications manager at Nokia Phones, told Reuters Thursday.

Mikael Westmark, a spokesman for Sweden’s Telefon AB LM Ericsson ( news – web sites), which used to make Nordic Mobile Telephone handsets, said: “The study and the conclusions it reaches differs from at least three other studies in the past in several highly regarded scientific journals. None of these studies found a connection between mobile phones and cancer.”

DEVELOPED TO SERVE NORDIC COUNTRIES

The Nordic Mobile Telephone network was initially developed to serve the Nordic countries, starting operations in the early 1980s, but then became popular in Russia and the Baltic countries.

It is still used in more than 40 countries, but has been overtaken in several countries by the Global System for Mobile Communications, which is due to be gradually replaced by rapid third-generation mobile networks.

Analog Nordic Mobile Telephone phones have been in operation for 20 years, making it possible to study the longer-term impact of microwave exposure to their users, but researcher Kjell Hansson Mild said it was too early to draw conclusions on the currently widely used digital Global System for Mobile Communications phones.

“Nothing can be said about GSM at this stage,” said Hansson Mild, professor at the National Institute for Working Life and co-leader of the study.

“These are tumors that develop very slowly, and GSM does not have users who have been using it for 10 years,” he told Reuters. (Additional reporting by Jan Strupczewski)

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