A link between radiation from cellphones and thyroid cancer may have been discovered for the first time by researchers at Beilinson Hospital in Petah Tikva and at Tel Aviv University, Haaretz reported.
If true, it would confirm the cause of a worrying rise in rates of thyroid cancer in recent years in Western countries. In Israel, the incidence of thyroid cancer has risen for more than a decade, paralleling the proliferation of cellphones in the country.
In one experiment, human thyroid cells collected from healthy patients were subjected to radiation with a device, designed for the study, that simulates the electromagnetic radiation emitted by cellphones. The irradiated thyroid cells proliferated at a much higher, statistically significant rate, than non-irradiated cells in the control group
A second experiment, using different methods and materials, gave similar results.
“The findings are the first evidence of changes in thyroid cells in response to electromagnetic radiation,” said Prof. Raphael Feinmesser, head of Beilinson Hospital’s Ear, Nose and Throat Department. “But drawing sweeping conclusions as to a connection between cellphone radiation and thyroid cancer is still far off.”
Uncertainty about the effects of exposure to cellular radiation has prevailed for years without conclusive evidence to prove or disprove any connection to health problems.
Some scientists believe that because cellular radiation is non-ionizing and incapable of causing changes in cellular DNA, it cannot cause cancer. But recent data gathered from epidemiological studies indicate a relationship between increased exposure to cellular radiation and cancerous growths, especially in the brain and the salivary glands.
“The thyroid gland is located in the neck, but the area is located the same distance from the ear as the regions of the brain where [cancerous] growths have been diagnosed as being related to the use of the [cellular] devices. This is a region that is not far from the center of the device’s radiation,” said Feinmesser.
“One of the explanations is that the rise is related to better technical methods of early detection of these growths, which have been developed in recent years. But other research shows that even after neutralizing this influence a rise in these growths still remains,” he added.
Cellphone companies are already feeling the effects of public awareness of the possibility that cellphones may be hazardous to their customers’ health.
Just this week it was reported that mobile operator Partner Communications (Orange) reached a settlement with a customer who claims he contracted cancer after using the company’s cellphones. The customer, who is in his 50s, sued Partner in May, claiming that intensive use of the device resulted in an aggressive lymphoma near his left ear. Partner agreed to pay 400,000 shekels in an out-of-court settlement.