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The Association Of Mobile Phones And Brain Tumours Essay Sample

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The Association Of Mobile Phones And Brain Tumours Essay Sample

            We now live in a fast-paced world where innovation and technology are intensely promoted and developed. There are numerous technological gadgets that have apposed themselves to man’s daily existence. What people used to live without, they now consider to be indispensable and necessary in the everyday events that constitute their lives. One of these products of technology that has become a necessity for people all over the world is the cellular phone.

            Cellular phones are viewed today as an essential communications tool. It is now the main means by which individuals are able to talk to one another across vast distances. The winning aspect of cellular phones is in their wireless nature. Because of this, it can be brought along anywhere, anytime. However, it may be the mechanisms used by the mobile phone to provide this mobile and transportable service that brings potential harm to the user.

Exposure to cellular phones engenders continued exposure to radiofrequency and microwave radiation, the power behind cellular phone technology. (Lonn, Ahlbom, Hall, Feychting and the Swedish Interphone Study Group, 526) However, the effects this may have on an individual is still mostly unknown. (Goldman and Klatz, 3) The fact that radiofrequency and microwave radiation may have carcinogenic properties raises the health risk alarm for cellular phone users everywhere. As a result, individuals and organizations from different sectors of society have investigated and speculated on the potential effects of cellular phone usage on an individual’s health. One of the most researched about relationships is the interaction between cancer in the cellular phone user and his or her cellular phone use. The types of cancers investigated on have been varied including types such as cancer of the parotid gland, cancer of the salivary gland, and brain tumour.

The goal of the present paper is to establish the relationship between cellular or mobile phones and the risk of brain tumour. Does increased cellular or mobile phone usage indicate an increase in risk of brain tumour? If so, what specific factors or mechanisms behind cellular or mobile phone technology lead to an increased risk of brain tumour occurrence? Does increased rate of usage play a factor? Does the level of radiofrequency and microwave radiation exposure have something to do with the increase in the potential risk involved for cellular or mobile phone users? These questions will be tackled through an analysis of the literature available today regarding the issue. Because of the widespread use of mobile phones, the interest regarding its risks are also spread out throughout the world and throughout different industries. Information regarding the increased risk of brain tumours and mobile phone usage can be acquired through a wealth of resources including newspapers, books, journals, newsletters, pages on the World Wide Web, and the like. Information may come from medical practitioners, researchers, journalists, statisticians, engineers, and the like. For this study, various data sources were used accessed with as much variety in terms of who was giving the information. This would insure that a more representative view and understanding of cellular or mobile phone health effects with regard to brain tumors would be achieved.

The exploration of the relationship existing between cellular phone use and brain tumors is important because it sheds light into the effects of a gadget that billions of people use and come into contact with everyday. It is important to understand what risks we take when using cellular phones. Also, should a conclusive relationship be established between the two, changes should be made by the mobile phone industry to prevent the increased risk to brain tumors that their products cause. It is, therefore, important to ask whether there really is an existing association between mobile phones and brain tumours.

Annotated Bibiliography

Fleming, Nic. “Mobile phone use ‘linked to tumour’.” Telegraph.co.uk. 26 January 2007. Telegraph Media Group Limited. 10 April 2008

            <http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/01/25/nmobile25.xml>

            The article presents the results of several empirical studies on the link between mobile phones and brain tumours. Several studies claimed that no link was to be found between mobile phones and increased risk of brain tumors. However, the article focused on a study indicating that long term use of mobile phones increased the chance of brain tumors on the side of the head where the phone was more often used. The article is not very detailed but is relatively new. However, it is able to provide an unbiased approach to the matter of mobile phones and brain tumours. Also, it shows a unique side to the issue at hand. Mobile phones only increase brain tumour risks over a long term period “which makes sense in terms of the length of time it takes for tumours to develop” quotes Fleming in the article. Also, the article presents an aspect that is not presented in other sources, that of the mobile company’s.

Goldman, Robert. and Klatz, Ronald. Cellular Phones: Medical Menaces of a Modern Day Convenience. Chicago, Illinois: 4M American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine, 2007

The book by Goldman and Klatz  is a comprehensive investigation into cellular phones and the harmful effects these have on the brain. It discusses the categories of electromagnetic radiation, describes the radiation involved in cellular phones, categorizes cellular phones according to radiation, describes the mechanism of cellular phone and radiation in causing harm to the human brain, and discusses specific risks caused by mobile phones. The book is one-sided because it is largely against cellular phones. However, it is an ideal choice for the present study because there have only been a few number of books published regarding the subject matter. Also, it is able to provide information about how to minimize harmful exposure to cellular phones that is not available in the other sources used for the study. The information in the book is highly valid because it has been based on previous research work and the authors are both medical doctors who have the credentials to be able to assess and analyze the previous literature competently.

Hardell, L., Mild, K. H., and Carlberg, M. “Case-control study on the use of cellular and cordless phones and the risk of malignant brain tumours.” International Journal of Radiation Biology, 78(2002): 931-963.

            The article presented the results of an empirical study conducted by the authors to investigate malignant brain tumor risks in cellular phones. A case-control study of individuals diagnosed with malignant brain tumors was analyzed with a conditional logistic regression analysis. Results showed that risk for malignant brain tumors were significantly increased for mobile phones use on the same side of the head as the location of the tumor. Contralateral exposure, however, showed no significant risks. The study provides a primary source of data regarding the risk of using mobile phones. Although the study shows only the perspective of mobile phones causing increased risks of brain tumors, it does so in an unbiased manner. There is a clear cut methodology and a delineation of statistical analysis which leads to the inevitable conclusion reached by the authors.

Hardell, Lennart., Mild, Kjell. H., Carlberg, Michael., and Hallquist, Arne. “Cellullar and cordless telephone use and the association with brain tumors in different age groups.” Archives of Environmental Health, 59(2004): 132-137.

            This article was another case-control study although it was able to include a variable that other sources did not, age. 5-year age groups were created for both the case and the control groups. Results showed that cellular phones caused increase risk for brain tumors especially in the age groups of 20-29 and 70-80. This was provided a latency period of more than five years. The study is fairly recent because it was conducted within the past five years. Three of the four authors are oncologists while one is affiliated with the Department of Natural Sciences of Orebro University and with the National Institute for Working Life of Sweden. The study can clearly provide additional information as to the brain tumor risks posed by cellular phones. More importantly, it categorizes the risk according to age groups and even accounts for latency periods.

Hoey, John. “No link between cellular-phone use and brain tumours?” Canadian Medica Association Journal, 164(2001): 537.

            The article provides a description, commentary and analysis of a study conducted on the relationship between brain tumors and cellular phones. John Hoey states that the risk for intracranial tumors as a result of exposure to radiation from cellular phones is minimal. An additional data that has not been mentioned in the other sources is the fact that newer cellular phone models utilize lower radiofrequencies and are thus less likely to cause increased risk of brain tumors. The article provides an alternative perspective regarding the matter and allows for an unbiased view into the possibility that brain tumors are caused by cellular phone use.

Imaida, Katsumi., Taki, Masao., Yamaguchi, Tsuyoshi., Ito, Takayasu., Watanabe, So-ichi., Wake, Kanako., Aimoto, Atsuko., Kamimuras, Yoshitsugu., Ito, Nobuyuki., and Shirai, Tomoyuki. “Lack of promoting effects of the electromagnetic near-field used for cellular phones (929.2 MHz) on rat liver carcinogenesis in a medium-term liver bioassay.” Carcinogenesis, 19(1998): 311-314.

            The article presents an empirical animal study conducted by the authors exposing rats to electromagnetic field levels also found in cellular phones. The study was aimed at understanding whether the electromagnetic radiation emitted by cellular phones were indeed carcinogenic in nature. The results of the study showed that no significant differences could be found between rat groups exposed to electromagnetic radiation and rat groups that were only sham-exposed. “The present study clearly demonstrated that the 929.2 MHz electromagnetic near-field modulated in a PDC wave form does not show any significant effect on rat liver carcinogenesis.” (314) The article provides a look into actual experimental results of exposure to the level of electromagnetic radiation in cellular phones. It is of course important to note that effects on rats may not be the same effects seen on humans. The article is not recent but is able to contribute much information as far as this paper is concerned. Laboratory data on the effects of 929.2 MHz of radiation has more internal validity as opposed to case-control studies. However, external validity is a problem with this article especially because experimentation was conducted on rats. At any rate, the findings of the study can not be disregarded.

Kuster, Niels., Balzano, Quirino., and Lin, James C. Mobile Communications Safety. London, UK: Chapman & Hall, 1997.

            The book by Kuster and Balzano provides information regarding the development of the mobile communications industry and has comprehensive sections as to how to safely use these gadgets. The safe doses for using phones emitting nonionizing radiation are also included in the book. The book is able to present the safety issues of cellular and mobile phones separate from the issue of brain tumor. Biological effects of radiofrequencies and experimental investigations conducted across the world were also included in the book. These add to the importance of the book to the present study as it is able to provide a wealth of information that will lead to fact-based answers of the research question.

Lonn, Stefan., Ahlbom, Anders., Hall, Per., Feychting, Maria., and the Swedish Interphone Study Group. “Long-term mobile phone use and brain tumor risk.” American Journal of Epidemiology, 161(2005): 526-535.

            The article presents a study by the authors conducted to investigate the validity of previous research stating an increased risk of brain tumors as a result of long term use of mobile phones. The research sample included 3.1 million individuals ages 20-69 residing in Sweden. All participants had been diagnosed with intracranial glioma. The results of the study showed that mobile phone use did not cause an increase in brain tumor risk. “It is not biologically plausible that radiofrequency exposure from mobile phone use would increase the brain tumor risk on the side of the head where the phone is usually held” (532-533). This article provides a primary source that counters the results of the other sources indicating that there is an increased risk of brain tumors gained from cellular phone use. The article is fairly recent and was written by authors affiliated with the Institute of Environmental Medicine and the Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics of Karolinska Institutet. The credibility of the information presented is high albeit the fact that the study was population-based.

Richter, Elihu D., Berman, Tamar, and Levy, Or. “Brain cancer with induction periods of less than 10 years in young military radar workers.” Archives of Environmental Health, 57(2002): 270-272.

            The article provides a description of case studies involving military and naval technicians diagnosed with cancer after exposure to radiation from radar equipment. The authors included information relating the results of these cases to cases of cellular phone radiofrequency exposure. The article provides specific definitions as to how a causal relationship or an association can be concluded from data of the latency periods involved between a source of radiation exposure and risk. Also, the authors provide logical reasoning as to why these definitions are not plausible with regard to cellular phone use. “The use of cellular phones represents the first time in history that humans are carrying out a mass ‘experiment’…of millions of individuals…holding a source of radiofrequency fields…in direct contact with the side of each individual’s head.”(271-272). The article provides hypotheses for future research and suggests the need to acknowledge causal relationships when presented data of brief latency periods with high radiation exposure.

Rothman, Kenneth J., “Epidemiological evidence on health risks of cellular telephones.” Lancet, 356(2000): 1837.

            This article presents different health risks that may arise from the use of cellular or mobile phones. The risks that were mentioned included the following: pacemaker interference, motor vehicle collisions, cancer and brain tumors, and base-station exposure to radiofrequencies. Although the paper was general in its approach to health risks and presented little new information regarding brain tumors and cellular phone or mobile phone use, it was able to put the issue into perspective. Unlike the other information sources, this article showed the risk of brain tumors to the other risks introduced by mobile phones. Even if brain tumor risk was indeed significantly increased by mobile phones, the risks posed by motor vehicle collisions would far outstrip those of brain tumors. The study is not recent but is still viable in the study as it falls within the ten-year period prior to the writing of this paper.

Tanner, Lindsey. “2 studies find no link between cell phones, cancer researchers say more looks needed, though, to gauge effects over long term :[Fourth Edition].” Seattle Times. 20 December 2000: A9.

            Two studies indicating an absence of relationship between cellular phones and cancer are decribed by Tanner in her article. One of the studies mentioned in the article was funded by a wireless communication company and raises questions of ethicality and bias. A follow-up study not funded by a wireless communication company, however, showed the same results. Use of cellular phones for longer terms than one hour a day for five years or more years would need to be further investigated. The importance of the article is in the fact that it shows the drive by different sectors of society, such as the Food and Drug Authority, mobile companies, academicians, medical professionals, journalists (like the author of the article), and the American Health Foundation, to understand the cancer risks involved in cellular phones. Although the article is not recent, it only serves to emphasize the point that interest regarding the topic is great.

Whitney, M. T. “Mobile phones boost brain tumor risk by up to 270 percent on side of brain where phone is held.” Natural News.com. 22 February 2007. Natural News Network. 10 April 2008 <http://www.naturalnews.com/021634.html>

            The article presented a published study showing an increase of risk of brain tumor by 40 to 270 percent on the same side of the head as the cellular phone usage. This is with the consideration that usage is greater than 2000 hours of the individual’s entire life. Risk is greatest for younger ages and is still present despite the development of the digital cellular phones from older analog versions. The article’s perspective is highly against cellular phones as these cause an “increased risk of brain tumors”. The author shows a great aversion to studies funded by mobile companies and suggests that results from such investigations provide an alternative but distorted view.

Summary of Research Findings & Conclusion

            The effect of radiofrequency and microwave radiation from cellular phones on the brain and on the risk of brain tumours is clearly a well-investigated topic. There has been much research regarding the topic.  A number of sources show that there are safety standards to be considered when utilizing mobile phones. In fact, specific definitions of how to establish whether cellular phone radiation causes brain tumour risks have even been established. Latency periods and exposure duration have been included in this defined categorization of a causal relationship and of association between radiation and cancer or brain tumour risks.

However, the exact relationship that exists between cellular phones and brain tumours has not been established. Despite the number of investigations performed on the true relationship between risk of brain tumour and mobile phones, the results and the stands about the matter remain inconsistent. It seems that there is much confusion regarding the true effects of cellular phones on brain tumours despite the fact that there continue to be an increasing number of individuals using these devices and exposing themselves to unknown risks. It is clear that the truth behind the association of these variable needs to be reached.

            Case-control studies have shown that use of cellular phones causes increased risk of brain tumour in the ipsilateral area of the brain, meaning the same side of the head as where the individual uses the mobile phone. Research has also shown that younger aged individuals are more prone to the risk posed by mobile or cellular phones. Individuals aged 20 to 29 are specifically seen to be at greater risk as opposed to other age groups.

Although much empirical evidence from case-control studies has been garnered indicating an increase in brain tumour risk with an increase in cellular phone usage, there have also been empirical data from similar case-control designs and other researches with different designs indicating an absence of a relationship between the two variables. Animal laboratory studies have also shown that there are no significant differences between rats exposed to radiation and rats sham-exposed to radiation.

As far as quality is concerned, the presentations and content of the articles are equivalent albeit opposite. However, it is undeniable that a greater number of published and unpublished work are available attesting to the fact that cellular phones are indeed associated with an increase in the risk of brain tumours. Also, there is a rising concern among the providers of the sources that much of the studies providing results that mobile phones are not significantly associated to risks of brain tumours are funded by wireless communication systems. This is problematic because ethical standards are strained. There is a great chance that the direction of the study’s results were biased as a result of a need to please and coordinate with the funding company. It is much like cigarette companies funding research which eventually conclude that cigarette smoke is not carcinogenic.

It is safe to say, however, that there is still insufficient data to arrive at a sure stand regarding the association of brain tumours and mobile phones. The results of the literature review are inconclusive as seen by the inconsistencies of the different articles and books. Researchers need to conduct further study regarding the matter. Questions of bias and ethics may be avoided by discontinuing the practice of having wireless communication companies fund the research. Definitions provided to better categorize whether a causal relationship or an association exists between the two through the use of measures of latency periods and exposure durations should also be applied.

In conclusion, there is not enough present information to be able to determine for a fact the legitimacy of an association between mobile phones and brain tumours. The research process, however, has created a hesitation regarding the complete safety of mobile phones. Although the association is yet unclear, it is obvious that there are carcinogenic risks involved with the type of radiation emitted by cellular phones.

Essay on the Research Process

            In order to identify a research topic, I observed my environment and identified factors that were most often subject to controversy. Having previously read of the issue, I decided to focus on mobile phones and their possible health risks. With this topic in mind, I began to search for sources discussing the matter. I made sure to take into consideration the requirements of having a varied number of sources and of having at least a specific number for each. In order to be able to go through the research process in an organized manner, I wrote down key words that I could use in my search. These key words include the following: mobile phones, cellular phones, cellphone, cell, wireless communication, phones, health risks, risks, and safety risks. I conducted the research through libraries and online resources.

            As I conducted the initial research, I found that the subject was too broad. I decided too narrow it down and chose only one specific health hazard that was still controversial in nature. This led to the final research topic of this paper, the association of mobile phones and brain tumours.

            The final key words used for the research problem were the following: mobile phone, cellular phone, phone, wireless, radiofrequency, electromagnetic radiation, microwave radiation, EMF, RF, brain tumor, tumor, brain tumour, tumour, cancer, carcinogen, brain, carcinogenic and other variations of these words. Combinations of these key words were used to be able to find sources and articles in search engines. Only scholarly and peer-reviewed articles were taken from online databases. Books regarding the research topic were hard to come by in the libraries which thus led me to an online quest for the same. An online search was also more fruitful because of the relative new-ness of the technology of cellular phones.

            The research process, although prolonged, was effective and successful. Numerous articles, books, and other such entries were acquired from the search. However, not all of these could be used. An exclusion criteria was established. Articles that were not able to provide a rational, logical, and scientific basis for their assertions were eliminated. Also, books that were not comprehensive in their presentation of the subject matter they were supposed to tackle were disregarded. The credibility of the providers of the information were also taken into consideration. Only sources written by individuals who could be considered as experts on the subject they presented were taken into consideration. It was also made sure that articles and books would not only combine to present one aspect of the controversy. If all the articles found would point to one conclusion, these would mean an assurance of the affirmation of the research problem. However, if a relatively significant number of the sources were available pointing to both sides of the controversy, an approximately equal number would be taken given the exclusion criteria.

Finally, through the research process, twelve valid and reliable sources were located. All twelve were able to provide information and data regarding the research topic. The variety of the sources utilized was also assured with the research process taken. By carefully following the methodology of the research process, the success of the located sources and of the paper’s output was assured.

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