Over the years, various governments around the world have attempted to enact regulations that warn cell phone users of the supposed risks of heavy cell phone use. In 2012, Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) proposed a law, which would have required labels highlighting the radiation risk of cell phones.
While some scientists do believe there could be harm posed to children whose brains are still developing, overseas studies have suggested there’s no connection between cellphone use and cancer rates. Large meta-analyses and studies have come up with no substantive connection. For example, one of the largest studies done to date showed inconclusive results after 10 years of research.
Now, Ars Technica alerts us to a recent French study that shows a potential elevated risk of cancer from high levels of cell phone use. Unfortunately, the study itself suffers from the same difficulties as other studies that try to delve into this issue (use of questionnaires, very small population use, and a high risk of spurious results). In a number of cases, the individuals were no longer healthy enough to do the questionnaire so someone close to them had to complete the questionnaire.
The study found a potential link only when the researchers divided the group into five sections and then separated out the 20 percent of the population that used the phone most heavily that associations between usage and cancer reached statistical significance. Even if we were to believe the study that a potential risk exists, the results aren’t consistent with the few studies that also found a similar association to cell phones and cancer in the past.
Most of those studies found that the cancers tended to develop on the side where people held their cell phones; the new study saw the opposite. Past studies also found that rural users, whose phones had to produce more powerful signals to communicate with distant towers, tended to have higher rates of cancer. The new study found the highest rates in urban users.
As a result, the only thing that’s safe to conclude is that this new paper leaves the field pretty much where it was before. There are still a few very limited studies hinting that there could be some connection between cell phone use and cancer, and some larger, more rigorous ones that see no connection.