New Delhi: There has been growing concern about the health risks associated with cell phones, and now the World Health Organisation's cancer arm, The International Agency for Research on Cancer has finally admitted a possible cancer link.
A team of 31 scientists reviewed several studies on cell phone usage and found that prolonged use may increase the risk for two types of tumors, increased risk of acoustic neuroma, which is non-cancerous tumor on the nerve that connects the ear to the brain and Glioma, a tumour of the brain.
The doctor who headed the research team said in a statement released by the WHO, "The conclusion means that there could be some risk, and therefore, we need to keep a close watch for a link between cell phones and cancer risk."
The experts cited a study up to the year 2004, that found a 40 per cent increased risk for a type of tumour called Glioma, in heavy users, on average speaking on their mobiles for 30 minutes a day for 10 years.
But cell phone habits have changed drastically since then. Many of us use our phones way more than that and India, being one of the fastest growing markets, is expected to hit 1 billion users by 2015.
India has more cell phones than toilets, according to the United Nations.
The European Environmental Agency is pushing for more studies, saying cell phones could be as big a public health risk as asbestos and smoking.
That is not likely to surprise American real estate agent Alan Marks, who has been fighting for warnings to be put directly on cell phones. He is convinced that his mobile phone use resulted in a malignant brain tumour that was the size of a golf ball.
"I know what it is. It was my cell phone use. There's no way you could put something to your head for twenty years and have it radiate, put radiation into your brain for that many years and not have it cause something," Marks said.
Earlier studies have found that cell phone use changes the way your brain functions and even interferes with your sleep patterns.
Doctors have also been warning about the danger when it comes to children.
The cell phone industry maintains that there is no conclusive proof of danger but their own user manuals advise that you keep your phones some 5/8th of an inch away from your body, not pressed to your ear, not even in your pockets.