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More studies link mobile phones to cancer, ill-health

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A new study has revealed that cases of a malignant type of tumour in mobile phone users have doubled in the last two decades, suggesting that the device causes cancer.

Mobile phones work by transmitting and receiving radio frequency microwave radiation.

The study published in the Journal of Public Health and Environment linked sharp rise in the rates of brain cancer (gliomas) to mobile phone use.

The researchers set out to investigate the rise in cases of an aggressive and often fatal type of brain tumour known as Glioblastoma Multiforme (GBM). They analysed 79,241 malignant brain tumours over 21 years, finding that cases of GBM in England have increased from around 1,250 a year in 1995 to just less than 3,000.

The study is the first recent effort of its kind to analyse in detail the incidence of different types of malignant tumours.

The scientists at the Physicians’ Health Initiative for Radiation and Environment (PHIRE) say the increase of GBM has till now been masked by the overall fall in incidence of other types of brain tumour.

This means that no fewer than 140 million mobile phone subscribers in Nigeria are at risk of developing brain cancer.

A radiologist at the Radiation Medicine Department of University of Nigeria College of Medicine (UNCM) and University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital (UNTH), Enugu, Prof. Ifeoma Okoye, told The Guardian: “There is a continued fight between mobile phone companies and medical research community, where there has been clear evidence of association between increased incidence of gliomas and consistent habit of holding your phone to the right ear.”

Okoye, who is also the founder of a non-governmental organisation, Breast Without Spot (BWS), said it was even worse in young persons whose blood brain barrier still allows considerable damage to their brain. “The association was so strong, that a couple of years ago, mobile phones were prohibited for use in underage adolescents,” she said.

Also, a recent Nigerian study that examined the potential adverse health effects of mobile phones and wireless base stations in the country revealed the inherent dangers.

An analysis of the study published in American Journal of Engineering Research (AJER) 2017 showed: “… people living close to the based stations over a long period of time with or without cell phone, and also the heavy phone users with close proximity to the base stations are liable to have some potential health hazards, such as fatigue, sleep disturbances, headaches, feeling of discomfort, difficulty in concentrating, depression, memory loss, visual disruptions, irritability, hearing disruptions, skin problems, cardiovascular disorders, and dizziness.”

The researchers from the Department of Computer Engineering and Department of Electrical/Electronic Engineering, Yaba College of Technology, Yaba, Lagos, include Yekini N.A, Babalola I.T, Koledoye T.O and Uhunmwangho E. E.

They concluded: “The level of the symptoms depends on length of period individuals have stayed or live near the base station; length of time individual spent on receiving or making calls with his/her mobile phone.

“Consequently, we recommend that people living or staying over a long time near mobile base station should ascertain the level of radiation and make efforts to screen the radiation if they perceive danger.

Also, individuals should reduce their level of making or receiving call with their mobile to avoid some of the potential hazard mentioned. Conversation with text messages could be a better option. In general, it is better to keep mobile phones as far as possible from our body during our daily lives.”

Another study shows that a cell phone device has some effects on the human body such as headache, fatigue, burning sensation on the facial skin, low sperm count and Alzheimer’s disease. The finding was published in International Journal of Innovative Environmental Studies Research.

The researchers from the Department of Physics, Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike-Umuahia, Abia State and the Department of Physics/Geology/Geophysics, Federal University, Ndufu Alike Ikwo, Abakaliki, Ebonyi State include G.U. Chukwu; N.N. Eluwa; and G.I. Kanu.

They concluded: “The effect of these problems can be long-term or short-term. At present the mobile phone technology is being increasingly used with almost no effective precautionary measure or advice to the public and urgent guidance is needed in order to alert the public to the inherent dangers of exposure to electromagnetic radiation.”

In 2015, the European Commission Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks, however, concluded that, overall, the epidemiologic studies on cell phone radiofrequency electromagnetic radiation exposure did not show increased risk of brain tumors or of other cancers of the head and neck region.

This was despite a study published the previous year, indicating that long-term mobile and cordless phone use tripled the risk of brain cancer, although this contradicted other similar investigations.

According to Cancer Research UK, it is “unlikely” that mobile phones increase the risk of brain tumours, however, “we do not know enough to completely rule out a risk.”

The organisation cautioned that because phones are a relatively recent invention, it may take many more years until the data will be sufficient to make more robust conclusions.

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has insisted that mobile phones do not cause cancer.

Meanwhile, as part of efforts to end new Human Immuno-deficiency Virus (HIV)/Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) infections and deaths by 2030, the Federal Government through the National Agency for Control of AIDS (NACA) is set to commence the ‘Nigeria AIDS Indicator and Impact Survey’ (NAIIS) next month.

The result of the survey is expected to provide key information that will guide the government to plan and develop more effective programmes to control HIV and hepatitis B and C in Nigeria.

The Director General of NACA, Dr. Sani Aliyu, told journalists at a press briefing in Abuja at the weekend, that the survey was the 12th of its kind world-over and would be ready by December 2018.

According to him, it is expected to determine the distribution of HIV and hepatitis B and C in the country if successfully carried out, and a total of 170,000 persons are targeted to be sampled for the survey.

The  Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, who was represented by his Senior Special Assistant on Community Health and Health Management, Mr. Araoye Segilola, in his remarks, said the survey was a huge move for an improved response to tackle HIV.


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