Hold the phone on cancer link

Renee Joslin, 19, of Goonellabah, will still be using her mobile phone despite a WHO study indicating it could increase the risk of developing brain cancers.
Renee Joslin, 19, of Goonellabah, will still be using her mobile phone despite a WHO study indicating it could increase the risk of developing brain cancers. Jay Cronan

IT WILL take a lot more than a “possible” link between mobile phones and brain cancer to make Gen Y to turn in their beloved hand-held devices.

A report released by the World Health Organisation’s cancer research wing this week found radio frequency electromagnetic fields generated by mobile phones were “possibly carcinogenic to humans”.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) said heavy usage could lead to an increased incidence of glioma, a malignant type of brain cancer.

However, researchers who worked on the report warned more research was needed before any definite link could be made between cancer and mobile phone usage.

Despite the report’s findings, Goonellabah 19-year-old Renee Joslin said she wouldn’t throw out her Nokia anytime soon.

“I don’t even use my mobile phone as much as my friends, but I would wait to see if it was a proven fact,” she said.

“If you could say you would get cancer using your mobile phone it would change my mind.

"They might have to make it illegal.

“Look at smoking that causes cancer and people still smoke.

"It’s one of those things you hear, but don’t take much notice of.

“I am conscious of using my mobile phone at petrol stations and that was proven to be a myth.

“Experts warn if you put your phone in your bra, like many girls do who don’t have pockets, it could cause breast cancer.

“I am wary of that.”

Renee used to use her phone to browse the internet frequently, but gave up Facebook when she began studying for her HSC.

“I am not dependant on it,” she said.

“I have friends that take it to the shower, the toilet and everywhere.

"People want to be updated all the time.

“My friend’s 11-year-old brother has an iPhone and I was shocked to hear that.

"I don’t care about updating information as much as other people, but it’s my generation.

"They like to be updated about everything.”

Professor Bruce Armstrong, from the University of Sydney, was one of the experts involved in the IARC report.

He said 3G technology used by iPhones, Blackberry and other mobile phones appeared to emit less harmful radio waves than 2G devices.

“I think that’s a very common principle of public health, that in the face of uncertainty ... it’s good to take precautions,” he said.

“I would say that the main message out of this study is to avoid exposing your brain to radio waves from mobile phones.”

Prof Armstrong said using hands-free devices, texting or using a landline where possible would reduce the potential health risks for mobile phone users.

Topics:  cancer gen y link lismore no fear

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