Swedish Study Raises Concerns About Cell Phones

Cell phone users may have more to worry about than poor reception or using too many minutes, according to a recently released study from Sweden’s Institute of Environmental Medicine.

The three-year study included 750 participants, 150 of whom suffered from acoustic neuroma, a normally benign tumor that affects the auditory nerve. It found the tumor risk nearly doubled for those who had used mobile phones for at least ten years.

When the side of the head where the phone was held was taken into consideration, the tumor risk was almost four times higher for the side where the phone was held and normal for the other side.

Analog Phones Tested

The study tested only analog phones, and most phones used since the late 1990s are digital (GSM) models, which have yet to be tested. The study did not draw any conclusions for GSM models, nor for analog phones in use for less than 10 years.

A spokesperson for the Acoustic Neuroma Association in Atlanta, Georgia, says the group does not see any reason for concern, especially since the study included relatively few people. In addition, information provided to the group by the medical community has not shown an increase in tumors that would correspond to the increase in cell phoneusage.

The association also has not been alerted to the problem by its medical advisory board.

Hearing Loss

Acoustic neuroma normally occurs in one out of every 100,000 people annually. It is a slow-growing tumor that can remain undiagnosed for years. Symptoms include a loss of hearing in one ear, sometimes accompanied by noise or tinnitus. Balance problems and facial tingling or numbness can also occur.

The tumors can continue to grow if left untreated, resulting in increased intracranial pressure, a condition that can be life threatening.

In some patients, however, the tumors do not grow at all. The tumor can bepositively identified with a specific type of MRI that uses gadolinium contrast.

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