See two articles on this new research.
Saliva from heavy cell phone users shows increased risk factors for cancer, says researcher
Journal Antioxidants and Redox Signaling
Scientists have long been worried about the possible harmful effects of regular cellular phone use, but so far no study has managed to produce clear results. Currently, cell phones are classified as carcinogenic category 2b – potentially carcinogenic to humans – by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). A new Tel Aviv University study, though, may bring bad news.
To further explore the relationship between cancer rates and cell phone use, Dr. Yaniv Hamzany of Tel Aviv University’s Sackler Faculty of Medicine at Tel Aviv University and the Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery Department at the Rabin Medical Center looked for clues in the saliva of cell phone users. Since the cell phone is placed close to the salivary gland when in use, he and his fellow researchers, including departmental colleagues Profs. Raphael Feinmesser, Thomas Shpitzer and Dr. Gideon Bahar and Prof. Rafi Nagler and Dr. Moshe Gavish of the Technion in Haifa, hypothesized that salivary content could reveal whether there was a connection to developing cancer.
Comparing heavy mobile phone users to non-users, they found that the saliva of heavy users showed indications of higher oxidative stress – a process that damages all aspects of a human cell, including DNA—through the development of toxic peroxide and free radicals. More importantly, it is considered a major risk factor for cancer.
The findings have been reported in the journal Antioxidants and Redox Signaling.
Putting stress on tissues and glands
For the study, the researchers examined the saliva content of 20 heavy-user patients, defined as speaking on their phones for a minimum of 8 hours a month. Most participants speak much more, Dr. Hamzany says, as much as 30 to 40 hours a month. Their salivary content was compared to that of a control group, which consisted of deaf patients who either do not use a cell phone, or use the device exclusively for sending text messages and other non-verbal functions.
Compared to the control group, the heavy cell phone users had a significant increase in all salivary oxidative stress measurements studied.
“This suggests that there is considerable oxidative stress on the tissue and glands which are close to the cell phone when in use,” he says. The damage caused by oxidative stress is linked to cellular and genetic mutations which cause the development of tumors.
Making the connection
This field of research reflects longstanding concerns about the impact of cell phone use, specifically the effects of radiofrequency non-ionizing electromagnetic radiation on human tissue located close to the ear, say the researchers. And although these results don’t uncover a conclusive “cause and effect” relationship between cellular phone use and cancer, they add to the building evidence that cell phone use may be harmful in the long term, and point to a new direction for further research.
One potential avenue of future research would be to analyze a person’s saliva prior to exposure to a cell phone, and then again after several intense minutes of exposure. This will allow researchers to see if there is an immediate response, such as a rise in molecules that indicate oxidative stress, Dr. Hamzany says.
Saliva Holds Cancer Clues In Heavy Cell Phone Users, Study Finds High Oxidative Stress Levels
on July 29 2013 5:13 PM
In an effort to find a link between cell phone usage and cancer risk, researchers found clues in the saliva of cell phone users. Since mobile phones are typically placed on the side of the face, they are close to the salivary gland.
By studying the saliva of heavy cell phone users, scientists found higher levels of oxidative stress – a process where the body experiences cumulative damage by free radicals that were imbalanced by antioxidants – which is considered a major risk factor for cancer.
Scientists studied the saliva content of 20 individuals who use their cell phones for a minimum of eight hours a month. Their spit was compared to a control group, mostly deaf people, who do not use a cell phone at all.
The study found there was “considerable oxidative stress on the tissue and glands which are close to the cell phone when in use.” The damage on these body parts is linked to cellular and genetic mutations that can create tumors.
While the study doesn’t draw any hard conclusions, study author Dr. Yaniv Hamzany says the next step would be to monitor a person’s saliva before being exposed to a cell phone, and then after several minutes using the device, he said in a statement.
This isn’t the first time cell phones have been linked to cancer. The National Cancer Institute points out that mobile phones emit radiofrequency energy, a form of radiation that has been known to increase the risk of cancer.
As evidence on the long-term effects of cell phones mounts, so does the number of people using the handheld devices.
Of the world’s 7 billion people, 6 billion have cell phones – a staggering figure since fewer people have access to a toilet than an iPhone, according to the UN. That number is expected to exceed the world’s population by next year, Silicon India Magazine reports.
Some scientists say the Federal Communications Commission should revise its policy on mobile devices, which has remained unchanged since 1996, Discovery News reports.
“There were very few cell phones in service back in 1996, and now, by some estimates, there are 5 billion globally,” Kerry Crofton, co-founder and executive director of Advisory Board Doctors for Safer Schools, said. “The other concern is that the standards were based only on testing a 200-pound male mannequin, but the standards do not apply to more sensitive groups, such as children, pregnant women and teens.”
Crofton compares the situation to how the delayed response of asbestos in America. “It took a hundred years for regulators to respond to that crisis, but the threat from not just cell phones, but WiFi networks and cell towers is immediate and widespread,” she said.