Cell Phones and Brain Tumors: A Valid Concern?
According to the American Counsel on Science and Health (ACSH), there's no doubt that the media has played the biggest role in the brain tumor scare that has been circulating the news outlets. Back in September 2004, a small Swedish study conducted at the Karolinska Institute found that the risk of developing acoustic neuroma was double in cell phone users, and four times as likely to occur on the side of the head that the cell phone was used on. Media outlets immediately picked up the story, and soon headlines were announcing that cell phones were linked to brain tumors. What these media outlets failed to do was include key aspects of the research that had been conducted.
As the ACSH points out, the researchers who conducted the 2004 study don't consider their findings to be completely accurate for a number of reasons. The study was small (only 750 participants were evaluated), and has not been replicated. Scientists generally do not consider research results reliable until they have been demonstrated several times. Also, this specific study examined only analog phones, which emit much more radiation than the digital phones used in today's market. The study's researchers were quick to say that the results are not a reason for panic; they're simply cause to research this topic further. Media outlets may have caused unnecessary fear by publishing exaggerated headlines warning the public about the "link" between cell phones and brain tumors.