Ever since the first cellphones became glued to the first teenager's ear, parents around the world have been concerned about the effect that these gadgets were having on their children's health. In particular, many parents and health experts alike worried that as cellphones emit energy in close proximity to the brain, they could lead to the development of brain tumors or other types of brain damage.
But a new study may just put parent's fear to rest. Researchers in Switzerland have found no link between the use of cellphones and a child's risk of developing cancer.
For the study, researchers at the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute in Basel, Switzerland, compared the cellphones habits of nearly 1,000 children ages 7-19 in Western Europe, including 352 with brain tumors and 646 without. They found that kids who used cellphones were no more likely to develop a brain tumor than kids who didn't.
The study's authors did note that radio frequency electromagnetic fields created by cellphones penetrate deeper into kids' brains than adults' brains, because kids' skulls are smaller. But, they argued, that unlike the radiation given off by X-rays or CT scans the energy emitted by cellphones isn't considered strong enough to damage DNA, cause mutations or lead to cancer.
It's also important to note — but in no way surprising — that some funding for the study came from the Swiss Research Foundation on Mobile Communication, which is partly supported by Swiss mobile phone operators.
So you might want to take these results with a grain of salt. Considering how many hours I spend with my phone glued to my own ear, I would certainly like to believe that I'm not doing major harm with each call. But for parents who want real peace of mind, I still think that speaker phone and texting are the safer way for kids to keep in touch.
The study was published online in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.