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US politico calls for cancer warning on cell phones

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There's no consensus among scientists whether mobile phones actually slow-cook human brains, but one US legislator is hoping her state will be the first frightened enough to assume they do.

Maine state legislator Andrea Boland plans to introduce a bill in the upcoming legislative session that would require mobile handsets in the state to carry warnings saying they might cause brain cancer.

Boland told the AP that (conclusive proof of hazards be damned) the state's roughly 950,000 cell phone users "do not know what the risks are" while they unconcernedly hoist the devices to their noggins.

Under her bill, mobile phone makers must place labels on handsets and packaging cautioning users of potential threats of brain cancer associated with electromagnetic radiation. It calls for a permanent advisory label with the word "warning" written in large, bold letters — plus a color graphic of a child's brain next to the warning, according to the AP. [Yes, a child's brain specifically]

Boland said enough studies have indicated risks that she has convinced her state's legislative leaders to allow her to propose the bill at the upcoming 2010 session in January, usually reserved for emergency and governors' bills.

Although the Federal Communications Commission maintains that phones sold legally in the US are safe, Boland is not the only legislator calling for warning labels.

Earlier this month, San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom endorsed a proposal that would require cell phone retailers there to cite radiation levels next to each phone in a font size at least as large as the price.

Scientific studies, meanwhile, are at considerable odds as to whether mobile phone pose any observable health hazards. A recent study from researchers in Denmark said that based on statistical analysis of nearly 60,000 brain tumor sufferers between 1974 and 2003, no cell-phone causation was found.

On the other hoof, a researcher from the University of Albany told a US congressional committee last September that based on evidence available, humanity soon faces "an epidemic of brain cancer and cancers in the future as a result of the uncontrolled use of cell phones."

The US National Cancer Institute says that studies don't show any consistent link between cell phone use and cancer, but it adds that scientists feel that additional research is needed before firm conclusions can be drawn. ®

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