The final results of the world’s largest and most costly study, one that sought to find out if cellphones can cause cancer, has been released on Thursday, November 1.
The National Toxicology Program experiment — which spanned more than 10 years, involved some 3,000 rodents, and cost $30 million — found that radiation from cellphones can cause cancer in male rats.
The male rats that were exposed to radio frequency radiation comparable to that used on 2G and 3G cellphones produced in the 1990s developed cancerous tumors in the heart. Some developed adrenal gland tumors and others developed brain cancer.
The link between radiation and tumors in the female rodents, on the other hand, was unclear.
“We believe that the link between radio-frequency radiation and tumors in male rats is real,” National Toxicology Program senior scientist John Bucher said in a statement released by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.
Bucher, however, cautioned that the level and duration of radiation exposure which the animals in the study were subjected to is far greater than that which people typically encounter in their daily lives.
The entire body of each test rat, for instance, was exposed to radio frequency radiation. This isn’t the case with humans, who typically only hold the devices against an ear or in their hands. The rats were also exposed to the radiation for about nine hours a day.
Thus, the exposure used in the study cannot be directly compared to the exposure which humans experience when they use a cellphone.
The rat study also looked at the effects of radio frequency which are associated with early generation cellphones — ones that are no longer popular these days. This means that any concern that may arise based on the result of the study would primarily apply to the early adopters who used the now antiquated devices — and not the users of current mobile phone models.
The American Cancer Society also doubts the implication of the study as pertaining to humans, according to USA Today. Otis Brawley, the chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society, cited that the incidents of brain tumors in people have been flat for the last four decades.
Following the release of the study’s findings, the FDA likewise assured the public that the current recommendation for cellphone radiation remains acceptable for protecting public health.
“Based on our ongoing evaluation of this issue, the totality of the available scientific evidence continues to not support adverse health effects in humans caused by exposures at or under the current radiofrequency energy exposure limits,” Jeffrey Shuren, director of the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health, said in a statement.