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Listen up: Cell phones may cause cancer

It has been estimated that there are 1.2 billion cell phone users, according to Network World magazine. Whether these cell phone users are in danger of adverse health effects such as cancer is still a concern. Are these cell phone users in danger of getting cancer, brain tumors or other health problems as a result of cell phone radiation?

According to the Associated Press, companies such as Motorola, Nokia, Sprint and Cingular Wireless are facing charges that the radiation their cell phones emit is at a dangerous level and these companies had previous knowledge of the radiation danger.

“My parents didn’t want me to use my (cell) phone too much because they were afraid it was going to be harmful,” junior Quang Lee said.

Class action lawsuits against these cell phone manufacturers have been filed in Pennsylvania, Georgia, New York, Louisiana and Maryland. The cases eventually were taken to federal court in Baltimore but were dismissed by Judge Catherine Blake. The Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals then reinstated the five cases. Four of the cases have been sent to the state courts again, and the fifth will be tried at the federal level. On Oct. 31, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected an appeal from cell phone manufacturers, who were hoping to have the cases dismissed once again.

Cell phones are potentially linked to brain tumors, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, fatigue and headaches. Even though the phones emit only a low level of radiation, cell phones are still thought to be dangerous because of the proximity to the head during use.

“Because hand-held cellular telephones are used close to the head, there is concern that the RF (radio frequency) energy produced by these devices may affect the brain and nervous system tissue in the head,” the American Cancer Institute said on

The cell phone companies, however, appeal to current scientific research, which states that there is no conclusive evidence the cell phone emissions lead to any harmful effects. Also, these companies note that they have been complying with FDA guidelines for cell phone radiation emissions. The FDA and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) currently regulate dangerous levels of RF, and all cell phones must meet their standards before being sold.

Even though science has not conclusively proven the harmful effects of cell phone usage, the Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association (CTIA), a lobbying group for the wireless industry, said in a research plan, “Little is known, however, about possible health effects of repeated or long-term exposure to low-level RF of the sort emitted by mobile units … some studies suggest the possibility for such low-level exposures to increase the risk of adverse health effects by unknown mechanisms.”

As stated in the transcript of Cellco Partnership vs. Pinney, the October appeal from the cell phone manufacturers, the plaintiffs want the cell phone companies to reduce their radiation emissions and inform consumers about any health hazards associated with radiation. The companies will also be forced to provide headsets to prevent radiation-caused brain tumors. Headsets lessen radiation exposure, because the cell phone isn’t placed to the head. Junior Dustin Hinkel often uses a headset when talking on his cell phone.

“I mostly bought it because it’s convenient to talk on,” Hinkel said. “However, the fact that it prevents radiation is also important. It’s convenient, and it lessens radiation.”

Overall, consumers can expect these court cases to shed some light on the safety of cell phones, for good or bad.

“It’s always (better) to be safe than sorry,” Lee said. “We are always finding negative effects of technology on human health.”