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Mobile phone use and cancer
  1. M Kundi
  1. Correspondence to:
 Prof. Dr M Kundi
 Institute of Environmental Health, Medical Faculty, University of Vienna, Kinderspitalgasse 15, 1095 Vienna, Austria;

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The continued success of mobile telecommunication producing a still growing population of users amounting to hundreds of millions of people worldwide has raised concerns about possible consequences on public health if mobile phones turn out to be less safe than previously assumed. In fact, never before in history has a device been used that exposes such a great proportion of the population to microwaves in the near-field and at comparatively high levels. The advantages of this technology with respect to health protection are undeniable, considering the many lives that have been saved by mobile phone calls in cases of emergency. On the other hand, telephoning while driving has become an important cause of accidents. However, the issue of possible long term effects such as the development of cancer is controversial. While there are still not enough data to present a final risk assessment, there is evidence from epidemiological and experimental studies that long term exposure to emissions from mobile phones may lead to a small to moderate increased risk of developing certain types of cancer. If a high proportion of the population is exposed, even a small additional risk could be of great importance to public health protection; hence measures reducing exposure may be indicated. However, because of the undeniable scientific uncertainties, industry lobbying has been successful in avoiding too strict prevention strategies.


After not more than 20 years of mobile telecommunication, the third generation of mobile phones is already awaiting introduction onto the market (some test areas are now in operation). In Europe mobile telephony started in 1981, and in the USA in 1983. The first generation mobile phones were the so called analogue types. The signal was transmitted by frequency modulation in frequency bands around 450 MHz and 900 MHz. The mobile phones had peak power of emission …

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