What are the real costs of mobile phones – are they a ticking health time bomb?


What are the real costs of mobile phones – are they a ticking health time bomb?

What is one of the largest public health investigations, into both the number of people potentially affected and the number of people who will potentially participate in this cohort study, was launched this week by Imperial College London.  It is expected that at least 250, 000 people across  five European countries  are expected to help with research into whether there is a connection between mobile phone use and long-term detrimental health effects of mobile phones . Participants phone use and health conditions will be noted for at least twenty years – making it the largest study worldwide carried out into this area.[i]

Mobile phones are now an integral part of daily life for most people – and many pre-secondary school children have their own phones and use them regularly.

The current guidelines, from the mobile telecommunications health research programme[ii] , says that the short term (below ten years) use of mobile phones is not associated with an increase in neurological conditions or cancers. However, current data is far from conclusive as longer term health related statistics are not yet available, particularly as some conditions may take longer to present.

Due to the sheer number of people who use mobile phones, the health implications must be discovered – and this is a colossal modern day public health measure.  This is both a brave and essential investigation, as globally (especially in Developed Countries) there could be a health time bomb, potentially leading to a high healthcare and socio-economic burden. It could also have potential implications regarding possible repudiated claims from Private Health insurers.

There is a concern that this investigation could spark fear in many people who may present unnecessarily to physicians, but conversely, the increased media awareness may result in earlier recognised signs and symptoms that could aid earlier diagnosis and prognosis.

Certainly I feel even the introduction of the research programme being considered in mainstream media will help to highlight the potential risks and may reduce unnecessary mobile phone use – especially amongst the young and health aware parents.

No ‘potential health warning notes’ have ever been issued by phone companies. If mobiles are found to be hazardous, it could have sweeping effects on mobile phone companies, as people may stop using them.  We could also consider the real cost of mobile phones. Certainly if we think about the advertising campaigns aimed at young people and importantly the types of contracts offering more and more ‘free’ minutes – these are actually inciting and inducing significant mobile phone use among young people. Phone companies could find themselves facing legal redress via class action lawsuits.

It is certain that this investigation is exceptionally important, and will provide authoritative results into the safety of mobile phones, which will benefit future generations.

Iseult Roche

Quality and Sustainability

[i] http://www3.imperial.ac.uk/newsandeventspggrp/imperialcollege/newssummary/news_22-4-2010-13-52-53

[ii] http://www.mthr.org.uk/documents/MTHR_report_2007.pdf



About Julia Manning

Julia is a social pioneer, writer and campaigner. She studied visual science at City University and became a member of the College of Optometrists in 1991, later specialising in visual impairment and diabetes. During her career in optometry, she lectured at City University, was a visiting clinician at the Royal Free Hospital and worked with Primary Care Trusts. She ran a domiciliary practice across south London and was a Director of the UK Institute of Optometry. Julia formed 20/20Health in 2006. Becoming an expert in digital health solutions, she led on the NHS–USA Veterans’ Health Digital Health Exchange Programme and was co-founder of the Health Tech and You Awards with Axa PPP and the Design Museum. Her research interests are now in harnessing digital to improve personal health, and she is a PhD candidate in Human Computer Interaction (HCI) at UCL. She is also dedicated to creating a sustainable Whole School Wellbeing Community model for schools that builds relationships, discovers assets and develops life skills. She is a member of the Royal Society of Medicine’s Digital Health Council. Julia has shared 2020health's research widely in the media (BBC News, ITV, Channel 5 News, BBC 1′s The Big Questions & Victoria Derbyshire, BBC Radio 4 Today, PM and Woman's Hour, LBC) and has taken part in debates and contributed to BBC’s Newsnight, Panorama, You and Yours and ITV’s The Week.
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