Children and adolescents who use cell phones are at no bigger risk of developing brain cancer than non-users, a new Swiss study found.
The study, published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute on Wednesday, sought to address concerns that children may be more vulnerable to health risks from electromagnetic radiation of mobile phones.
The researchers at the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute noted that childhood brain cancer hasn't increased since cell phones appeared. But they encouraged more research, saying their study wasn't large enough to rule out a small risk and that kids' cell phone use has increased since 2008.
In their study, Swiss scientists tracked 352 children ages 7 to 19 who were diagnosed with brain cancer between 2004 and 2008 in Norway, Denmark, Sweden and Switzerland. They interviewed the children about their prior cell phone use, and compared them with 646 healthy children and teenagers.
About half of both groups said they were regular cell phone users. Children who said they have used cell phones for at least five years earlier weren't at higher risk of cancer than those who weren't regular users.
The researchers also checked phone-company records for a small subset of the children. The few dozen who had cell phone service the longest, about three years or more, did have an increased risk of developing a brain tumor. However, the link was not related to the total hours of cell phone use.
Several past studies on cell phone use have indicated there is a link between cell phone use and brain cancer.
After reviewing dozens of studies, the World Health Organization recently took the position that radio-frequency energy from cell phones may cause brain cancer.
Despite denying that cell phones increases the risk of brain tumors, CTIA - The International Association for the Wireless Telecommunications Industry provides tips on its website on how concerned consumers can how to reduce radiation exposure.
“If you want to take steps to further lower your exposure, you can use an earpiece or a headset," writes CITA. "You may also use the device's speaker function, keep your wireless device away from your body when it's on, or limit the amount of time you hold the cell phone next to your head.”
They added that some marketers offer shields that claim protect a user from radio-frequency (RF) radiation.
Consumers interested in the specific absorption rate (SAR) or the amount of radiation that their cell phones emit can go visit the CNET page on phone radiation levels.