Are mobile phones a 'health time bomb'?

The link between mobile phones and illness has long made headlines but now experts have warned that the Government may have too easily dismissed such claims.

Mobile phone health risks

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A report by medical experts and scientists suggests the officials are "downplaying uncertainty" over the possible health risks, despite more than 200 academic studies linking the gadgets to health problems such as brain tumours.

Among research cited in the report are a 2008 Swedish study which suggested children are five times more likely to develop a rare brain tumour known as a glioma if they regularly use a mobile phone.

Meanwhile the World Health Organisation admitted earlier this year that usage may cause cancer and advised reducing direct exposure in favour of hands-free kits.

While critics claim proof of serious health consequences have been largely inconclusive, consultant neurosurgeon and contributor to the report, Kevin O'Neill, pointed out that the latency period for brain tumours is 30 years and warned that "waiting for certainty of harm is a dangerous policy."

Another of those urging the Government to adopt further measures to warn the public about the potential health risks is Professor Denis Henshaw, emeritus professor of human radiation effects at Bristol University.

"Vast numbers of people are using mobile phones and they could be a time bomb of health problems," Professor Henshaw said. "Not just brain tumours, but also fertility, which would be a serious public health issue.

He added, "The health effects of smoking, alcohol and air pollution are well known and well talked about, and it's entirely reasonable we should be openly discussing the evidence for this, but it is not happening."

The report, Mobile phone health risks: the case for action to protect children, states that the UK is falling behind with health warnings on the subject - in France, for example, mobiles are banned in primary schools.

However, David Spiegelhalter, professor of risk management at Cambridge University, told the Daily Mail, "Public health campaigns have a cost. With no evidence of current harm, then they can lessen trust in science and increase anxiety."

What do you think - is the Government guilty of 'downplaying' the health risks associated with mobile phone usage or should there be more information about the possible consequences? Leave your comments below...