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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 as well.”

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 told Reuters.

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.


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