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Saturday, February 19, 2005

Proof of mobile health risk

By Mark Prigg Science Correspondent, Evening Standard

Doctors today claim to have found the first proof of health problems caused by mobile phones.

They say up to five per cent of the population could be suffering headaches, mood swings and hearing problems caused by radiation from handsets.

Experts are advising people - especially children - to limit their use of phones if they experience headaches or other symptoms.

The research, by the Irish Doctors Environmental Association (IDEA), was carried out on 16 people who had complained of symptoms from using mobile phones and were particularly sensitive to electromagnetic radiation.

The 16 were studied over several months. They were examined by doctors, filled in detailed questionnaires charting their use of mobile phones, and underwent medical tests including blood and liver analysis.

It was found 13 suffered symptoms including nausea, headaches and dizziness which researchers believe are a clear indication of radiation. IDEA chairman Dr Philip Michael said: "This is causing disabilities in a large section of the population.

"We are working on funding for a far larger study which will use blind testing to prove beyond doubt that mobile phones are responsible, but we believe the evidence is now overwhelming.

"These problems can get very difficult to deal with - we had one person in our study who was basically confined to their house because of the symptoms."

He advised anyone suffering from the symptoms the study describes to limit the time they spend on their mobile, and to try to stay away from mobile phone masts.

The research was this week presentedto a select committee of Irish MPs, who, it is hoped, will back plans for further research.

Other experts in the field said they were not surprised by the results of the study. Dr Michael Maier of Imperial College said more research was needed, adding: "There is so much anecdotal evidence I think more findings along these lines are inevitable.

"The biggest problem is that it is hard to measure any effects as people use their phones so differently.

"But the brain is an electrical instrument, and the frequency of radiation produced is very close to that used in the brain, so it's no big surprise to find a phone is interfering with that frequency, causing headaches, nausea and the other problems."

Last month experts advising the Government warned that children under eight should not be given mobile phones because of the potential health risks.

Sir William Stewart, chairman of the Health Protection Agency, said: "I don't think we can put our hands on our hearts and say mobile phones are safe. If there are risks, and we think there may be risks, then the people who are going to be most affected are children."

That study, by the National Radiological Protection Board, found no firm conclusion could be reached on the impact of mobile phones.

IDEA is made up of 30 leading Irish doctors, and is affiliated with the World Health Organisation. It is part of a group awarded the Nobel prize for physics in 1985. Members include Dr Patrick Hillery, the ex-President of Ireland and an EU commissioner.

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©2005 Associated New Media

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