Press release: Childhood Cancer 2012 - mobile phones

25 April 2012

25th April 2012

Childhood Cancer 2012: International Scientific Conference on Early Exposures and Childhood Cancer

New theory on how mobile phones could cause brain cancerA new theory about how radiation from mobile phones might induce brain cancer will be presented for the first time today (Wednesday 25th April) at the Childhood Cancer 2012 conference in London.

A landmark report by the World Health Organization’s cancer agency last year concluded that there is a possible link between mobile phone use and brain cancer, but how that might happen has remained unclear (1). Explaining the mechanism of how mobile phone radiation might cause cancer is vital for avoiding and ultimately preventing the disease.

The conference will hear that one explanation could be that the radiation produced from mobile phones could activate signaling pathways within brain cells and stimulate the growth of cancer cells. Professor Dariusz Leszczynski, of the Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority in Finland, has gathered together the findings from several studies published thus far, taken the common denominators and compared them to how gliomas, the most common form of brain tumour (2), develop (3).

‘Thus far the WHO has ruled that there is insufficient evidence to advise on specific ways in which radiation could affect brain activity and induce cancerous growths. What I am suggesting is a different way in which we can explore any changes that occur to brain cells as a direct result of mobile phone radiation,’ Professor Leszczynski will explain.

‘It is important for us to prove or disprove whether my hypothesis is correct. While we know there is a possible link between mobile phone radiation and brain cancer, we aren’t sure how it happens. And it’s vital we find out this information so we can be sure about any potential health risks of mobile phone use.’

In Britain 91% of adults (4), and it’s suspected at least as many, if not more, secondary school children, as well as an increasing number of under 10s, either own or use a mobile phone (5) (6). A recent study reported that one in ten parents in the UK feel it’s appropriate for children as young as four years old to own a mobile phone (7). Yet Government advice for children under 16 remains the same: only to use mobile phones for essential purposes, and keep calls short (8).

There has been increasing concern over the long-term health risks, particularly cancer, resulting from the exposure to radio frequency electromagnetic fields, such as those emitted by wireless communication devices (mobile phones) (9).

Around 390 children are diagnosed with brain and spinal (central nervous system, CNS) tumours every year in Britain – 25% of all childhood cancer registrations. CNS tumours cause the highest number of deaths from cancer in childhood – 1,115 children died in the 10 years from 1995-2004, accounting for just under a third of all childhood cancer deaths. The survival rate stands at 71% (10).

Media Enquiries and Notes to Editors 

Oral presentation, Assembly Hall, 1600hrs BST Wednesday 25th April

From 0830hrs BST Tuesday 24 April to 1700hrs BST Thursday 26 April
Childhood Cancer 2012 press office (Bishops Robing Room):
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7390 1578

About Children with CancerChildhood Cancer 2012 is an international scientific conference on early exposures hosted by leading children's charity CHILDREN with CANCER.

CHILDREN with CANCER (formerly CHILDREN with LEUKAEMIA) is the leading national children’s charity dedicated to the fight against childhood cancer.

The charity funds life-saving research into the causes, prevention and treatment of childhood cancers and works to protect young lives through essential welfare and campaigning programmes.

Over the past 24 years, what started as a small memorial charity has become a major force in paediatric oncology helping to drive childhood leukaemia survival rates up to over 80%.

To date CHILDREN with CANCER has raised almost £140 million pounds for the research and treatment of childhood cancer.  The charity receives no government funding and relies entirely on voluntary donations.

(2)    Gliomas begin from glial cells, which are the supportive tissue of the brain. There are several types of gliomas, categorized by where they are found, and the type of cells that originated the tumor
(3)    ‘Possible mechanism of cell phone radiation-induced brain cancer’ Professor Dariusz Leszczynski abstract for Children with Cancer conference

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