by Geoffrey Lean
30 March 2008
Mobile phones could kill far more people
than smoking or asbestos, a study by an award-winning cancer expert
has concluded. He says people should avoid using them wherever
possible and that governments and the mobile phone industry must
take "immediate steps" to reduce exposure to their radiation.
The study, by Dr
Vini Khurana, is the most
devastating indictment yet published of the health risks.
It draws on growing evidence – exclusively reported in
the IoS in October 2007 – that
using handsets for 10 years or more can double the risk of brain
cancer. Cancers take at least a decade to develop, invalidating
official safety assurances based on earlier studies which included
few, if any, people who had used the phones for that long.
Earlier this year, the French government warned against the use of
mobile phones, especially by children. Germany also advises its
people to minimize handset use, and the European Environment Agency
has called for exposures to be reduced.
Professor Khurana – a top neurosurgeon who has received 14
awards over the past 16 years, has published more than three dozen
scientific papers – reviewed more than 100 studies on the effects of
mobile phones. He has put the results on a brain surgery website,
and a paper based on the research is currently being peer-reviewed
for publication in a scientific journal.
He admits that mobiles can save lives in emergencies, but concludes
"there is a significant and
increasing body of evidence for a link between mobile phone
usage and certain brain tumors".
He believes this will be "definitively
proven" in the next decade.
Noting that malignant brain tumors represent "a life-ending
diagnosis", he adds:
"We are currently experiencing a
reactively unchecked and dangerous situation."
He fears that "unless the industry
and governments take immediate and decisive steps", the
incidence of malignant brain tumors and associated death rate
will be observed to rise globally within a decade from now, by
which time it may be far too late to intervene medically.
"It is anticipated that this danger
has far broader public health ramifications than asbestos and
smoking," says Professor Khurana, who told the IoS
assessment is partly based on the fact that three billion people
now use the phones worldwide, three times as many as smoke.
Smoking kills some five million
worldwide each year, and exposure to asbestos is responsible for as
many deaths in Britain as road accidents. Late last week, the
Mobile Operators Association dismissed Khurana's study as "a
selective discussion of scientific literature by one individual".
It believes he "does not present a
balanced analysis" of the published science, and,
"reaches opposite conclusions to the
WHO and more than 30 other independent expert scientific