TUESDAY, June 22 (HealthDay News) -- Living near a cell phone
tower while you're pregnant doesn't raise your baby's risk of
developing a childhood cancer, British researchers report.
"These results are reassuring with respect to cancer risk in young children and living near mobile phone base stations," said lead researcher Dr. Paul Elliott, a professor of epidemiology and public health medicine at Imperial College London.
"There is public concern about possible effects of mobile phone mast emissions on the health of children," Elliott said. "This large national study found no association between mobile phone base station exposures and risk of early childhood cancers."
As the use of mobile phones has increased, so have fears that
exposure to the radio waves they emit can cause cancer. The results
of a recent major, international study were inconclusive, and
earlier reports of cancer clusters near cell phone towers are hard
to interpret, because of the small numbers and possible biases, the
researchers noted in the report, published June 23 in
bmj.com. They also noted that no radiobiological explanations have been shown for these cancers.
For the study, Elliott's team collected data on 1,397 children
with leukemia or brain, or central nervous system tumors, who
ranged in age from less than a year to 4 years.
For comparison, the researchers identified a control group of
children who did not have cancer and matched them to the others by
sex and date of birth. The researchers also noted the distance the
children lived from a cell tower at birth and the power output of
The researchers found no association between risk of early
childhood cancers and the mother's estimated exposure to cell phone
towers during pregnancy.
"It would seem to be very unlikely that there is any serious risk to young children from cancers resulting from proximity to a mobile phone mast," said John Bithell, an honorary research fellow in the Childhood Cancer Research Group at the University of Oxford and author of an accompanying editorial.
The study, like virtually all previous studies, finds no
association between childhood leukemia or cancers of the brain or
central nervous system and supposed exposure to radio frequency
fields from a cell phone tower, Bithell said.
Exposure levels from cell phone towers are much lower than those
from a hand-held mobile phone, and no biological effects from
exposure to radio frequency fields have been demonstrated
experimentally, he added.
However, health effects can take time to appear, and studies of
cancers in adults might be more revealing, he said.
But for now, "the medical profession should encourage their
patients not to worry about this possibility," Bithell said.
"Although proximity to a mast may be aesthetically distressing, anxiety and moving house are a bigger health hazard than any associated physical effect," he said. "Above all, the risks of using a mobile phone inappropriately, -- for too long, at work or while driving -- should be considered far more seriously."
For more information on cell phone and cancer, visit the
U.S. National Cancer Institute.