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 Manning is a social entrepreneur, writer, campaigner and commentator. She is based in London and is the founder and Chief Executive of 2020health, an independent, social enterprise Think Tank whose aim is to Make Health Personal. Through networking, technology, research, relationships and campaigning 2020health has influenced opinion and action in fields as diverse as bioethics, alcohol, emerging technologies, fraud, education, consumer technology and vaccination. Julia studied visual science at City University and became a member of the College of Optometrists in 1991. Her career has included being a visiting lecturer at City University, a visiting clinician at the Royal Free Hospital, working with south London Primary Care Trusts and as a Director of the UK Institute of Optometry. She specialised in diabetes (University of Warwick Certificate in Diabetic Care) and founded Julia Manning Eyecare in 2004, a home and prison visiting practice for people with mental and physical disabilities using the latest digital technology, which she sold to Healthcall (now part of Specsavers) in 2009. Experiences of working in the NHS, contributing to policy development, raising two children in the inner-city and standing in the General Election in Bristol in 2005 led to Julia forming 2020health at the end of 2006. Julia is a regular guest on TV and radio shows such as BBC News, ITV’s Daybreak/ GMB, Channel 5 News, BBC 1′s The Big Questions, BBC Radio, LBC and has taken part in debates and contributed to BBC’s Newsnight, Panorama, You and Yours and ITV’s The Week. She is mum to a rugby-mad son, a daughter passionate about Shakespeare, and wife of a comprehensive school assistant head-teacher. She loves gardening, ballet, Zimbabwe, her Westies Skye and Angus, is an honorary research associate at UCL and a Fellow of the RSA.
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