Connection between cellphone use and cancer-causing cells unclear

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The International Agency for Research and Cancer found minimal association between carcinogenic cells related with cell phone use after a week-long expert panel discussion.

Many other factors are thought to increase likeliness of cancer-causing cells, including genes, use and exposure.

The panel’s chairman, Jonathan Samet of the University of Southern California, told the Washington Post, “We found some threads of evidence telling us how cancers might occur, but there were acknowledged gaps and uncertainties.”

BYU health science professor Eugene Cole said he doesn’t think the relationship between cancer and cellphones has been proven yet, due to lack of long-term research.

“In summary, while there are a few studies that show a weak association between cell phone use and adverse health effects, they are very few,” Cole said. “What we lack right now are long-term studies where people have been using the devices for 10 years or more.  And even then, it’s extremely difficult to control for all possible variables and get a clear picture as to increased risk, and certainly not cause and effect.  But this does remain a question in terms of health risk, and there are many programs researching the topic.”

Caitlin Regan, a senior majoring in history, said studies are too weak to stop her from using her phone every day.

“My family and friends are all the way in Atlanta,” Regan said. “With research showing so little relation between cancer and cellphone use, I am willing to take the risk to keep in contact with my family.”

Darcy Shoaf, junior from Indiana, majoring in bio-chemistry, said as a student, her cell phone is her main form of communication.

“Because I am student and never at my apartment, I don’t have a home phone, and because I also use my phone for email, it is essentially my only way of communication,” Shoaf said. “I don’t really think that phones can be considered carcinogenic because there are way too many other factors for them to say it’s just phones.”

Shoaf said if it turns out phones do cause cancer, companies will develop new phones that don’t cause cancer.

“Even if it was pretty obvious that they did, I wouldn’t use my phone any less or be afraid too,” Shoaf said. “I feel like it’s when they say diet cola is carcinogenic, even if it’s not really, but they find commonalities between them. I might actually still use my phone even if it was proven to be carcinogenic because I can’t imagine life without it. I would still use it, and I might be an addict, I would have to get a patch or something.”

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