British scientists have launched an ambitious 30-year project costing millions of pounds to ascertain whether the use of mobile phones can lead to cancer and other diseases or not.
Over 250,000 people aged between 18 and 69 would be a part of the study ‘Cosmos for Cohort Study On Mobile Communications’ that, according to the researchers, would help answer all the questions about how safe are cellphones.
The participants would be recruited through cooperative mobile phone network operators from five countries - the UK, Finland, the Netherlands, Sweden and Denmark, the Telegraph reported.
Mireille Toledano, one of the investigators from the School of Public Health here said, “This is the largest study to date worldwide on mobile phones and health and will be monitoring a large number of mobile phone users over a long time.”
“It will be the gold standard.” Mireille Toledano added.
Unlike earlier studies which relied on people who develop illnesses recalling their mobile phone usage, the study will pick up diseases and symptoms as they arise.
Researchers will simultaneously monitor participants’ health and mobile phone usage records in such large numbers that it should provide an accurate and impartial look into their effects.
The research will be carried out in three stages.
In the first stage, that is first five years of the study, the researchers hope to collect data on the physical effects of mobile phone use - from headaches, to depression to general quality of life.
Then after 10 more years or in the second part of the study, they hope to gain an insight into whether mobiles cause common cancers or not.
Finally after 15 more years, they will monitor for rarer cancers and brain diseases such as multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s and motor neurone disease.
Noting that “the situation at the moment is pretty reassuring”, Lawrie Challis, a member of the Mobile Telecommunications and Health Research (MTHR) programme said, “The balance of scientific evidence to date does not suggest that mobile phones cause cancer.”
Challis, who is a professor at the University of Nottingham, said, “But because of the uncertainty we can’t rule out the possibility that it might in future, and that’s why we’re funding Cosmos.”
Pointing out that it hasn’t been enough time that people have started using mobile phones, Challis said, “Some cancers take 10 or 20 years for symptoms to appear, some even longer. We’ve got to address that question.”
The scientists will be analysing trends for not only brain, head and neck cancers, but also multiple sclerosis and neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Motor Neurone Disease as well as heart conditions and strokes.
They would also take note of less serious problems such as sleep disorders, headaches, tinnitus and depression.