The FDA has yet to finish its review of the NTP data, but a top official said the initial impression is that cell phone radiofrequency radiation does not pose a cancer threat to humans. And earlier this December, the California Department of Public Health released its long debated-over and controversial guidelines on how to lower your exposure to mobile phone radiation, amidst criticisms the guidelines were overzealous and would only further stoke confusion for the public.
Unlike ionising radiation such as that from gamma rays, radon and X-rays, which can break chemical bonds in the body and are known to cause cancer, radiofrequency devices such as cellphones and microwaves emit radiofrequency energy, a form of non-ionising radiation. If these results are confirmed, Bucher said, they appear to suggest that this type of radiation could be a "weak" carcinogen.
"In the NTP rat study there was a significant increase in incidence of schwannomas of the heart in the animals exposed to radiofrequency radiation, with a dose-response relationship in male rats, as well as the occurrence of gliomas of the brain, though this increase was not statistically significant". Female rats exposed to the radiation didn't, and neither male nor female mice showed obvious health problems in a second study.
In a bid to clarify matters, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which plays a key role in developing U.S. cellphone regulations, asked the National Toxicology Program (NTP) at the National Institutes of Health to launch studies examining the issue. In real life, humans are exposed to cellphone radiation at a rate that is "very, very, very much lower than what we studied".
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The study specifically used 2G and 3G frequencies - not the frequencies used on more advanced 4G or 5G networks.
"The levels and duration of exposure to RFR were much greater than what people experience with even the highest level of cell phone use and exposed the rodents' whole bodies".
The findings shouldn't be extrapolated to humans because the rats were exposed to higher levels of radiation than people take in, even with heavy mobile phone use, said John Bucher, a senior scientist with the National Toxicology Program.
The FDA concluded, once again, that taking into account all the available scientific evidence there is no link between cell phone usage and adverse effects on human health.
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As for the weight issue, they saw changes in newborn rats and their mothers when exposed to high levels at the time of pregnancy and lactation. A new provision in the state could block patients from enrolling for 3 months if they do not submit their paperwork in a timely matter, according to the report.
So, what do these results in rodents mean for people?
To an observer this conflicting conclusion might seem concerning but the experts say that we should actually see that there is no clear pattern of harm here. "Even with frequent daily use by the vast majority of adults, we have not seen an increase in events like brain tumours".
The American Cancer Society was in agreement with the assessment that cellphones were safe to use. The schwannoma evidence is "the strongest cancer finding in our study", said Bucher.
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