Health probe on mobiles

January 21, 2000

A team of University of Leeds researchers led by epidemiologist Tricia McKinney will question thousands of people in the next three years. They hope to answer one of the biggest questions of the telecommunications revolution: do mobile phones cause cancer?

Thousands of people diagnosed with a brain tumour will be questioned about their use of mobile phones, in the largest study of its kind.

The team includes members based in the Midlands and Scotland. The use of mobiles by an equal number of healthy people will be assessed and the results compared.

People's exposure to radiation, chemicals and electromagnetic fields will also be examined in the study. Brain tumours are becoming increasingly common in developed countries, with about 3,800

new cases identified in the UK each year.

"The causes of brain tumours are unknown," said Dr McKinney. "And these need to be identified before preventive measures can be taken."

Sources of potentially harmful radiation include electric motors found in equipment such as sewing machines. The study is part of a worldwide project coordinated by the International Agency for Research on Cancer in Lyon, France.

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