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US Congress debates cellphone cancer risk

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The House Subcommittee on Domestic Policy has been hearing from cancer researchers - and the wife of a cancer-sufferer - about the dangers of uncontrolled mobile phone use and how more research is needed.

Citing the usual comparison with tobacco - everyone thought it was safe but it really was causing cancer - researchers from the University of Albany and the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute called for more research and warnings to the public that using mobile phones might be unsafe.

The two experts giving testimony to the committee agreed that the rise in temperature caused by holding an operating phone beside the head isn't significant, but both claimed that more subtle affects could be at work, with Dr. David Carpenter of the University of Albany being most stark in his warnings:

"The evidence available now poses the frightening strong possibility [sic] that we are facing an epidemic of brain cancer and other cancers in the future as a result of the uncontrolled use of cell phones."

Dr. Ronald Herberman was slightly less dramatic, pointing out that the most serious danger presented by cell phones is being hit by a driver talking on one. But he restated his belief that there is a significant risk from cellphone use - as iterated in the memo he sent out to University staff in July.

CTIA, the mobile industry trade association, was asked to speak but decided to rely on a written statement - no doubt as an in-depth analysis of the mathematical basis behind the claims and counterclaims would bore the committee beyond understanding, while statements such as "four times the risk," and the tragic testimony of a cancer-sufferer's wife are much easier to digest.

Analysis of cancer rates continues, but until the yuppies who've had cellphones glued to the side of their faces since the 80s start dropping dead, we're not going to start panicking. ®

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