Academic journal article College Student Journal

A Study in Kuwait of Health Risks Associated with Using Cell Phones

Academic journal article College Student Journal

A Study in Kuwait of Health Risks Associated with Using Cell Phones

Article excerpt

Previous studies have suggested a link between cell phone use and various symptoms. Analysis of 3,274 completed questionnaires from throughout Kuwait show a significant effect of exposure to cell phones for burning sensation on the ear, temporal pain, pain in the back of the head, auricular pain, noises in the ear, ear numbness, heartbeat disturbances, fatigue or stress, eye discomfort or pain, learning difficulties, sleep disturbances, headache, difficulty in concentration, agitation, and breathing problems; length of call is more important than number of calls per day; and an increased effect with use of a headset or use in the car.

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In Kuwait, as in most more developed countries in the world, cell phone use has become almost universal, and even children as young as nine are being given cell phones as presents. Yet, in their relatively short history, cell phones have been blamed for causing all manner of ills, including cancer, headaches, memory loss, high blood pressure and strokes. Though many of these studies have been criticized and contradicted by other studies, the need to assess possible risks cautiously remains.

The most studied and most publicized aspect of cell phone safety has been a possible link with cancer. A lawsuit filed in Florida by David Reynard alleging that the use of a cell phone caused his wife's fatal brain cancer was dismissed by a Federal court in 1995 for lack of valid scientific evidence but sparked a world-wide interest in investigating such a possible connection. Results have been inconsistent.

Thus, the finding by Lai and Singh (1995) that low-intensity microwave exposure increased DNA single-strand breaks in rat brain cells was not replicated in subsequent studies by other groups. Again, Repacholi et al. (1997) reported an increased incidence of lymphomas in mice submitted to radio frequency (RF) fields similar to those used in digital cell phones, but essentially the same group found no effect when they repeated the experiment (Harris et aI., 1998).

Subsequent studies, both epidemiological and experimental, have also been divided in the conclusions reached. Carlo (1999), Hardell, Mild, Pahlson and Hallquist (2001), Hardell, Mild and Carlberg (2002, 2003), Hardell et al, (2003), and Szmigielskis (1996) reported a positive association. On the other hand, Ali Khan et ai. (2003), Cook, Woodward, Pearce and Marshall (2003), Inskip et ai. (2001), Muscat et al (2000), Johansen, Boice, McLaughlin and Olsen (2001), and Johansen (2004) reported negative results.

Most reviews of the evidence have also concluded that the existing evidence for a causal relationship between RF radiation from cell phones and cancer is weak to nonexistent. These include those by Foster and Moulder (2000), Moulder et ai. (1999), and Munshi and Jalali (2002). National and international expert groups from Canada (Royal Society of Canada, 1999, 2003), UK (IEGMP, 2000; British Medical Association, 2001; National Radiological Protection Board, 2003), Netherlands (Health Council of the Netherlands, 2002), France (Zmirou, 2001), Sweden (Boice and McLaughlin, 2002), and the combined Nordic countries (Swedish Radiation Protection Agency, 2004) have reached similar conclusions. The American Cancer Society (2004) considers it unlikely that cell phones cause cancer.

There are, however, dissenters. Hansson Mild, Hardell, Kundi and Mattson (2003) criticized the Swedish report but decided that the investigations with positive findings were inconclusive. However, in a later review (Kundi, Mild, Hardell & Mattson, 2004), they stated that, although all studies had some methodological deficiencies, all studies approaching reasonable latencies found an increased cancer risk associated with mobile phone use.

This may be borne out by a study by Lonn, Ahlborn, Hall and Feychting (2004), which suggested that mobile phone use of at least 10 years' duration may be necessary to produce an increased risk of acoustic neuroma. …

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