Pregnant women who live near a cell phone mast are no more likely to have a baby that later develops cancer, says a study in the British Medical Journal.
In a survey of nearly 7,000 children, researchers found that those who developed cancer before the age of five were no more likely to have been born close to a mast than other children.
They examined data from the UK’s four national operators on every one of the country’s 82,000 mobile phone masts, and calculated the amount of electromagnetic radiation each household would have been exposed to.
They found that children who developed cancer were no more likely than others to have been born near a radio mast.
“In this systematic national investigation we found no association between risk of cancer in young children and estimated exposures to radiofrequency from mobile phone base stations during pregnancy,” say the authors.
“The few previous reports of excess risks of cancer near mobile phone base stations were based on apparent clusters of small numbers of affected people living nearby. Such reports of individual clusters are difficult to evaluate as they are subject to possible selection and reporting biases.”
John F Bithell, an honorary research fellow at Oxford University, said the medical establishment should reassure patients that proximity to mobile phone masts is not dangerous.
“Moving away from a mast, with all its stresses and costs, cannot be justified on health grounds in the light of current evidence,” he says.
“The epidemiological evidence is also supported by experimental evidence, which has so far failed to show any biological effects – in vivo or in vitro – that might lead us to worry about the impact on health.”
However, theBMJ study did not examine mobile phone use – which generates much more electromagnetic radiation than simply living near a mast – amongst pregnant women.
Cellphones have been under suspicion for years, with some studies suggesting that living near a base station or using a phone for extended periods can increase the risk of cancer. They have even been linked to the decline on the world’s bee population.
But a recent study found that normal cellphone use did not cause any problems, except possibly for the heaviest users.