by Eija Rissanen, Student Life editor
|This March, the Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority
of Finland (STUK) started a pilot study on humans to discover
if exposure to radiation during a cell phone call can cause changes
in human proteins and therefore cause cancer. STUK has used human
cell samples in previous studies, but this was the first time
radiation was aimed directly on human bodies.
Cells function in a different way when they are in the body than
in laboratory surroundings,” said Dariusz Leszczynsky,
a STUK researcher, in a Reuters interview. “Now we want
to confirm whether radiation causes cell-level changes in humans
In this pilot study, a small area of skin on the arms of volunteers
was exposed to the same amount of radiation that cell phones
radiate during an hour-long phone call. Researchers took skin
samples before and after the exposure, for comparison, Leszczynsky
The volunteers, a group of 10 women, were chosen to complement
sample groups from previous STUK studies. Leszczynsky thinks
that there might be a difference in the effects on men and women,
and he wants to be able to compare data from the direct skin
tests to the previous human cell-sample tests.
The results of the study are due by the end of the year. Leszczynsky
and his team are hoping to determine if cell phone radiation
affects skin cells, the body’s natural barrier that prevents
toxins and other dangerous proteins from invading unprotected
tissues and cells.
Some researchers suspect that cell phone usage has made brain
cancer more common, but according to Leszczynsky, there is no
clear evidence to support that. In human cell-sample tests, evidence
of cell-level changes caused by cell phone radiation, such as
shrinkage, have been found, but it is impossible to predict the
significance of the health effects of those tests, said Leszczynsky.
In addition to scientists, the main cell phone manufacturers—Nokia,
Motorola, Sony Ericsson, Samsung, and Siemens—are also
interested in radiation research, and they are demanding more
scientific results. Manufacturers are also developing cell phones
that will direct radiation away from the head, according to Kaleva.
Leszczynsky reassured Kaleva, that unless more precise scientific
results concerning health and cell phone usage are found, cell
phones should be considered safe and consumers should have no
reason for fear.