Melbourne: While fatal brain cancer is on the rise, questions have been raised whether it is caused by radiations from mobile phones.
Some studies have found there is no link between mobiles and brain cancer. Others have found a link.
Now, Dr Charlie Teo, one of Australia`s top neurosurgeons, has claimed that some people are too afraid to find out because of the enormous consequences.
Dr Teo told News.com.au that studies that found no link were usually at least partly funded by telecommunications companies – and that the telcos have in the past refused to release records of phone usage that would allow a more robust study to be done.
The largest study done, the international and partly telco-funded Interphone study, found phones were safe – unless you are a “heavy user”, or a child (children were not included in the study).
“(Brain cancer) is a terrible disease, it`s the most lethal cancer known to mankind. It kills young people and it appears to be affecting more people than it did ten years ago. I believe there may be a link between mobile phones and brain cancer,” Dr Teo said.
“Finding a definite link would be devastating – and the telecommunications companies are too afraid to find out,” he stated.
Dr Teo – whose opinion is published in full on The Punch today – thinks we need to find out for sure, and soon.
“Why wait until half the world`s population has brain cancer?” he asked.
He also went to great pains to emphasise that there may not be a link; that he is not a radiation expert, and that he is not a zealot who wants to get rid of mobile phones. But he has looked at all the available evidence, at least a third of his patients` tumours are in the area of the brain near the ear, and he wants to find out what is going on.
Dr Teo said he personally minimises his usage and always uses a hands-free kit.
The World Health Organisation says the non-ionising radiation emitted by phones is possibly carcinogenic and recommends hands-free or texting.
And in the instructions for iPhones and Blackberries lurks a warning to keep phones slightly away from your body.
Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association Chief Executive Officer Chris Althaus said AMTA rejected “Dr Teo`s baseless claims of alleged improper industry influence over research into mobile phone health and safety”.
He said while they respected his work and acknowledged his right to express his opinion, expert opinion and the weight of evidence showed there were no adverse health effects from mobile phone use.
He said the industry was committed to supporting expert research to help consumers make informed choices, that funding was provided under strict protocols – and that sometimes governments made funding conditional on some funds coming from industry.
Althaus also said the industry had cooperated fully with researchers.