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July 22, 2019

Study finds ‘clear evidence’ cell phone radiation may cause cancer in rats — but not humans

November 2, 2018
High exposures to cellphone radio frequency radiation (RFR) are associated with clear evidence of cancer in rats but exposures used in the studies cannot be compared directly to the exposure that humans experience when using a cell phone. (iStock)

Thanks to the federal government, we now know for sure that spending a lot of time on cell phones can be bad news. For rats.

What that means for humans, however, remains unclear.

“The National Toxicology Program concluded there is clear evidence that male rats exposed to high levels of radio frequency radiation like that used in 2G and 3G cell phones developed cancerous heart tumors,” the National Institutes of Health, parent agency of the NTP, said in a statement.

There was “clear evidence” that male rats developed cancerous heart tumors when exposed to RFR — and “some evidence” of cancer in the brain and adrenal glands.

The study, which took over 10 years to complete and cost $30 million, involved around 3,000 rodents.

“This information has informed the FDA’s assessment of this important public health issue, and given us the confidence that the current safety limits for cell phone radiofrequency energy exposure remain acceptable for protecting the public health,” said FDA’s Dr. Jeffrey Shuren in a statement released Thursday.

The findings do not apply to people, researchers said.

“The exposures used in our studies are not directly comparable to the exposures that humans typically experience when using a cellphone,” the National Toxicology Program’s John Bucher told reporters Thursday, according to NBC News.

The study also focused on 2G and 3G wireless signals, an early generation of cell phone technology, and was not conducted using current models.

The lowest amount of radiation used in the studies were equivalent to the highest local tissue exposure allowed for cell phone users.

On a daily basis, the rats were only exposed to nine hours of exposure.

“The exposures used in the studies cannot be compared directly to the exposure that humans experience when using a cell phone,” John Bucher, NTP senior scientist said. “In our studies, rats and mice received radio frequency radiation across their whole bodies. By contrast, people are mostly exposed in specific local tissues close to where they hold the phone.”

Bucher and other experts believe the correlation between radiation and tumors in male rats is real.

“As part of our commitment to protecting the public health, the FDA has reviewed, and will continue to review, many sources of scientific and medical evidence related to the possibility of adverse health effects from radio-frequency energy exposure in both humans and animals and will continue to do so as new scientific data are published,” Dr. Shuren said.

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