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ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
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Acupuncture Cuts Dry Mouth in Cancer Patients
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Green Tea May Help Prevent Oral Cancer
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Caring for Aging Loved Ones Can Be a Catch-22
Recession Scrambling Health Spending in U.S.
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
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Bad Marriages Harder on Women's Health
High Blood Fat Levels Common in Americans
COSMETIC
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DENTAL, ORAL
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Acid Drinks Blamed for Increase in Tooth Erosion
Rheumatoid Arthritis May Harm Gums
DIABETES
Fructose-Sweetened Drinks Up Metabolic Syndrome Risk
Boosting Vitamin D Can Do a Heart Good
Strict Blood Sugar Lowering Won't Ease Diabetes Heart Risk
DIET, NUTRITION
Teens Lose More Weight Using Healthy Strategies
Pesticides on Produce Tied to ADHD in Children
An Apple a Day May Help Keep Heart Disease Away
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
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Where You Live May Affect Your Cancer Diagnosis
Small Doses of Carbon Monoxide Might Help Stroke Victims
EYE CARE, VISION
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FITNESS
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You Can Get Great Exercise In The Garden
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GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
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Gum Chewing May Speed Colon Surgery Recovery
Traditional Nonsurgical GERD Treatments Not Impressive
GENERAL HEALTH
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HEAD & NECK
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HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Study Suggests Link Between Cell Phones and Brain Tumors
Subway Defibrillators Save Lives
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HEARING
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Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
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Low Vitamin D Levels Linked to Heart Disease
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
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Hand Washing 10 Times a Day May Help Keep Flu Away
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INFERTILITY
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MEN'S HEALTH
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MENTAL HEALTH
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PAIN
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Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Expectant Mom's Exercise Keeps Newborn's Birth Weight Down
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
Woman in America Are Delaying Motherhood, Study Says
SENIORS
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For a Healthier Retirement, Work a Little
The Juice From Beetroots May Boost Stamina
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Daylight Savings: Not a Bright Time for All
6 to 8 Hours of Shut-Eye Is Optimal for Health
Moderate Aerobics May Ease Insomnia Symptoms
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Women Smokers Lose 14.5 Years Off Life Span
Lifting Weights Can Ease Arm Swelling in Breast Cancer Survivors
A Brisk Pace May Keep Stroke at Bay
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Study Suggests Link Between Cell Phones and Brain Tumors

(HealthDay News) -- The latest study focusing on a possible cell phone-brain tumor connection finds a weak potential link between the two.

A review of existing research on the topic, published online Oct. 13 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, discerned no overall link. But when the spotlight was turned on only the more methodologically rigorous studies, a potentially harmful association was found.

Combined with similarly murky conclusions from earlier research, this leaves the world's four billion cell phone users with no clear indication of what risk, if any, they are taking when they converse on the go.

"We cannot make any definitive conclusions about this," said one expert, Dr. Deepa Subramaniam, director of the Brain Tumor Center at Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center in Washington, D.C. "But this study, in addition to all the previous studies, continues to leave lingering doubt as to the potential for increased risk. So, one more time, after all these years, we don't have a clear-cut answer."

"What makes me worry," she stated, "is that the higher quality studies [seen here] did indeed show an association."

Joel Moskowitz, the study's senior author, said that "clearly there is risk." He's director of the Center for Family and Community Health at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Public Health.

"I would not allow children to use a cell phone, or I at least would require them to use a separate headset," Moskowitz said. "It seems fairly derelict of us as a society or as a planet to just disseminate this technology to the extent that we have without doing a whole lot more research of the potential harms and how to protect against those harms. Clearly, we need to learn a whole lot more about this technology."

Some in the technology industry disagree.

"The peer-reviewed scientific evidence has overwhelmingly indicated that wireless devices do not pose a public health risk," John Walls, vice president of public affairs for CTIA-The Wireless Association, said in a prepared statement.

"In addition, there is no known mechanism for microwave energy within the limits established by the [U.S. Federal Communications Commission] to cause any adverse health effects," he said. "That is why the leading global heath organizations such as the American Cancer Society, [U.S.] National Cancer Institute, World Health Organization and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration all have concurred that wireless devices are not a public health risk."

For the new study, Moskowitz and his fellow researchers in South Korea searched medical bases for the keywords "mobile phones," "cellular phones," "cordless phones" and "tumors" or "cancer." They included 23 case-control studies, involving 37,916 total participants, in their final analysis.

When the studies were pooled, no risk was seen between mobile phone use and brain tumors, either benign or malignant. But a subgroup of studies that employed more rigorous methodology -- most conducted by the same research team in Sweden -- reported a harmful effect, whereas a set of less rigorous studies -- most funded by an industry consortium -- found a protective effect.

Specifically, the more robust studies found that using a mobile phone for a decade or longer resulted in an 18 percent increased risk for developing a brain tumor.

Some studies also showed that brain tumors were more likely to appear on the side of the brain where the cell phone was used.

According to the American Cancer Society, nearly 21,000 malignant brain or spinal cord tumors are diagnosed in adults in the U.S. each year, while 3,800 such tumors are diagnosed in children.

Moskowitz also believes that there's potential for harm to other areas of the body -- the genitals, for example -- when the phone is carried in a pocket.

With so many people worldwide using cell phones, even a small risk could translate into many illnesses and deaths, he said.

"We need to do a whole lot more research because the stakes are really high and there seems to be suggestive evidence that you better be careful about this, especially in children, who have developing tissue and smaller brain and skull sizes," Moskowitz warned.

Subramaniam seemed to agree.

"I do encourage people to use the speaker phone or a hands-free device if they can, and I definitely do not encourage children to use cell phones because then there's a much longer lifetime risk of exposure," she said.

"In my opinion," she said, "the question remains unsettled -- and unsettled always carries with it likelihood that we might find an association."

A report last year from the National Research Council, the main operating agency of the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering, and compiled at the request of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, called for more research into the risks posed by long-term cell phone use, rather than the more commonly studied short-term risks. It urged that such research focus on the health of children, pregnant women and fetuses as well as workers subject to high occupational exposure.

SOURCES: Deepa Subramaniam, M.D., director, Brain Tumor Center, Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, Georgetown University Medical Center, Washington, D.C.; Joel Moskowitz, Ph.D., director, Center for Family and Community Health, School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley; prepared statement, John Walls, vice president, public affairs, CTIA-The Wireless Association, Washington, D.C.; Oct. 13, 2009, Journal of Clinical Oncology, online Published on: October 13, 2009