CHILDREN should only use mobile phones “for essential purposes” as they are far more vulnerable to cancer-causing radiation, according to advice from the Department of Health.
The country’s chief medical officer is not limiting his warnings to children, however, and warned adults that “all calls should be kept short”.
Dr Tony Holohan said hands-free sets should be the preferred choice when making calls and that users should text rather than speak on a mobile handset.
His comments come after a World Health Organisation/International Agency for Research on Cancer (WHO/IARC) report recommended that handsets be classified as “possibly carcinogenic to humans” — advising users to reduce exposure to the radio-frequency electromagnetic fields emitted by handsets.
There has been a sharp increase in recent years in households opting to cut off their landline and depend on mobile phone use alone.
However, Dr Holohan called on people “to use cell phones only when landline phones are unavailable”.
“All mobile phone users can also reduce their exposure by using a wired hands-free device so that the phone need not be held against the head and refraining from keeping an active phone clipped to the belt or in the pocket,” he said.
“We may not truly understand the health effects of mobile phones for many years. However, research does show that using mobile phones affects brain activity. There is general consensus that children are more vulnerable to radiation from mobile phones than adults.
“Therefore, the sensible thing to do is to adopt a precautionary approach rather than wait to have the risks confirmed,” he said.
Dr Holohan, a Department of Health adviser, said Germany, France, Austria, Britain and Russia have all taken a similar stance.
Not surprisingly, perhaps, the country’s biggest mobile phone makers have come out against the research.
A Sony Ericsson spokesman said: “The results are consistent with the vast majority of existing scientific research which shows no conclusive evidence of a connection between [radio-frequency electromagnetic fields] exposure and cancer.”
Nokia stated: “It is important to note that IARC has not classified [radio-frequency] fields as definitely nor even probably carcinogenic to humans. IARC has only concluded that, based on limited evidence, it may be possible that there could be some increased risk for certain cancer.”
The latest WHO/IARC comments are based on research which shows that a positive association has been observed between mobile phone use and an increased risk for glioma, a malignant type of brain cancer.
Chairman of the working group Jonathan Samet said: “The evidence, while still accumulating, is strong enough to support a conclusion and a 2B classification. The conclusion means that there could be some risk, and therefore we need to keep a close watch for a link between cell phones and cancer risk.”
There are more than five billion mobile phones in the world. IARC had advised that additional research be conducted into the long-term, heavy use of mobile phones.
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