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“Epidemiology of Health Effects of Radiofrequency Exposure”

Environmental Health Perspectives

National Institue of Environmental Health Sciences

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      Epidemiology of Health Effects of Radiofrequency Exposure

      We have undertaken a comprehensive review of epidemiologic studies about the effects of radiofrequency fields (RFs) on human health in order to summarize the current state of knowledge, explain the methodologic issues that are involved, and aid in the planning of future studies. There have been a large number of occupational studies over several decades, particularly on cancer, cardiovascular disease, adverse reproductive outcome, and cataract, in relation to RF exposure. More recently, there have been studies of residential exposure, mainly from radio and television transmitters, and especially focusing on leukemia. There have also been studies of mobile telephone users, particularly on brain tumors and less often on other cancers and on symptoms. Results of these studies to date give no consistent or convincing evidence of a causal relation between RF exposure and any adverse health effect. On the other hand, the studies have too many deficiencies to rule out an association. A key concern across all studies is the quality of assessment of RF exposure. Despite the ubiquity of new technologies using RFs, little is known about population exposure from RF sources and even less about the relative importance of different sources. Other cautions are that mobile phone studies to date have been able to address only relatively short lag periods, that almost no data are available on the consequences of childhood exposure, and that published data largely concentrate on a small number of outcomes, especially brain tumor and leukemia.
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        Mobile telephones and cancer--a review of epidemiological evidence.

        There is considerable public concern about possible long-term adverse health effects of mobile phones. While there is scientific controversy about long-term health effects of high-frequency electromagnetic fields lasting for at least 50 yr, the rise and success of mobile telecommunication made it necessary to investigate the problem more comprehensively and assess the possible risk cautiously because never before in history has a substantial proportion of the population been exposed to microwaves in the near field and at comparably high levels. Because the mostly localized exposure target region is the head, most epidemiological studies focus on brain tumors. Overall nine epidemiological studies have been published, four from the United States, two from Sweden, and one each from Denmark, Finland, and Germany. Seven studies were mainly on brain tumors, with one investigating in addition to brain tumors salivary gland cancer and another cancer of the hematopoietic and lymphatic tissues, and one examining intraocular melanoma. All studies have some methodological deficiencies: (1) too short duration of mobile phone use to be helpful in risk assessment, (2) exposure was not rigorously determined, and (3) there is a possibility of recall and response error in some studies. Nevertheless, all studies approaching reasonable latencies found an increased cancer risk associated with mobile phone use. Estimates of relative risk in these studies vary between 1.3 and 4.6 with highest overall risk for acoustic neuroma (3.5) and uveal melanoma (4.2), and there is evidence for enhanced cancer risk with increasing latency and duration of mobile phone use.
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          Multistage carcinogenesis and the incidence of human cancer.

          We consider the implications of multistage carcinogenesis for the incidence of cancer in human populations. When clonal expansion of partially altered cells is properly accounted for, we find it unnecessary to invoke genomic instability as an early event in malignant transformation. Environmental agents that increase the rate of clonal expansion of partially altered cells are efficient carcinogens. As a corollary, intervention strategies that decrease this rate are to be preferred to strategies that decrease the rate of early mutational events in carcinogenesis. Copyright 2003 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
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            Author and article information

            Affiliations
            Institute of Environmental Health, Center of Public Health, Medical University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria, E-mail: Michael.Kundi@ 123456meduniwien.ac.at
            Author notes

            The author declares he has no competing financial interests.

            Journal
            Environ Health Perspect
            Environmental Health Perspectives
            National Institue of Environmental Health Sciences
            0091-6765
            March 2005
            : 113
            : 3
            : A151
            1253781
            ehp0113-a0151a
            15743699
            This is an Open Access article: verbatim copying and redistribution of this article are permitted in all media for any purpose.
            Categories
            Perspectives
            Correspondence

            Public health

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