NEW DELHI: Chances of developing a brain tumour doubles for those who are hooked to their mobile phones. This has been found in a study conducted by Swedish scientists, which indicates that an hour a day on a mobile phone for a decade is enough to increase the risk.
According to Professor Lennart Hardell of the University Hospital in Orebro and Professor Kjell Hansson Mild of Umea University, long-term mobile users had double the chance of getting a tumour on the side of the brain where they held the handset for over 10 years.
The team called for special caution regarding children. They said children should be discouraged from using mobiles because their thinner skulls and developing nervous systems made them especially vulnerable. This finding could come as news for the Indian health ministry which has just embarked on the nation's first long-term government study looking at what excessive mobile phone use can do to people's health.
Cell phone use is India has rocketed in the past few years. India is now home to over 200 million mobile phone users with six million being added each month.
Cell phone usage has been suspect for some time for the health hazards it poses. While studies have shown that people who use cell phones for long periods face the risk of developing malignant brain tumours, others said it could lead to hearing impairment and sleep disorders.
The latest Swedish study analysed the results of 11 previous studies carried out around the world. It examined long-term users because cancer can take more than a decade to develop. The researchers said almost all studies in the past had discovered an increased risk of cancer.
The study, published in the latest issue of the journal 'Occupational Environmental Medicine', said that those who used their phones for at least a decade were 20% more likely to contract acoustic neuromas (a type of brain tumour) and 30% more likely to get malignant gliomas (a common brain tumour).
"Long-term users were twice as likely to get the gliomas and two-and-a-half times more likely to get the acoustic neuromas than other people," the study said. The Indian study is expected to show results in the next five months.
Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) is conducting the study in five centres including PGI, Chandigarh. Individual trials are being conducted to look at how mobile phones can cause sleep disorders, memory lapses and hearing impairment.
TOI had recently reported about what psychiatrists call ringxiety — a phenomenon in which users imagine their phone ringing or feel it vibrate when it actually doesn't.