The health of the nation dominates headlines and debate. If it's not MRSA, it's teenage obesity or middle- class drinking. With each warning, the Government and corporations are goaded into action – a ban on smoking; junk food ads banished before the watershed; traffic-light guides on packaged food.
Yet one concern passes with an absence of open, balanced debate – mobile phone use and its effect on human health. A fortnight ago this newspaper highlighted the research of two Swedish scientists who found that using mobiles for more than 10 years significantly raised the risk of brain cancer.
A month earlier, scientists from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel reported that radiation from mobiles can trigger cell changes, which could lead to tumours.
Between these reports came the UK's official report on wireless health risks from the Mobile Telecommunications and Health Research Programme, a body funded to the tune of £8.8m by government and the industry. The MTHR concluded that none of its "studies showed brain function is affected by RF [radio frequency] exposure". It decided no further studies were needed at this time.
There is incontrovertible evidence that wireless use has a biological effect on cells, which could be the first link in a chain leading to health problems.
The MTHR's report was inadequate in the scope of evidence it examined and premature in its conclusion that no further studies into the biological effects are needed. And in contrast to other public health issues, ministers remained silent.
The public is ill-served by this limited approach. What is required is a free and open debate addressing all aspects of the issue, as well as a great deal more research. Without that, we will not be able to gauge the nature or the scale of the problem, nor find a way to address it.Reuse content