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An unusual pattern of cardiomyopathy, a sign of an enlarged and damaged heart, was seen in both male and female rats, the study found. "We note, however, that the tumors we saw in these studies are similar to tumors previously reported in some studies of frequent cell phone users".

On Friday, the US National Toxicology Program (NTP), a division of the US Department of Health and Human Services, threw fresh kindling onto the smouldering debate over whether mobile phones are harmful to our health. The lowest level of radiation they were exposed to was about the maximum level cellphones are permitted to emit, and the rodents were exposed to nine hours of radiofrequency radiation every day for two years, which Bucher made clear was much more than a regular cellphone user is going to be exposed to. In 2010, the Federal Communications Commission came under fire after it dropped a long-standing recommendation that consumers buy phones with lower radiation emissions. The study looked at only 2G and 3G frequencies, which are still commonly used for phone calls.

This animal evidence, together with the extensive human evidence from case-control studies on brain cancer in Sweden, France, Canada and other countries, coupled with the rising incidence of brain cancers in young people in the U.S., conclusively confirms that radiofrequency radiation is a category 1 human carcinogen.

The National Toxicology Program's studies are to undergo peer review at a March meeting. Further, a significant increase in DNA damage was observed in hippocampus cells of the brain of male rats exposed to radiofrequency radiation. Bucher added that other agencies are studying cellphone use in people and its links to cancer.

The rodents with tumors were exposed to radiation levels higher than those with heavy cell phone use, and the risk of cancer appeared pretty small, but more research needs to be done to further evaluate the risk in humans. And he isn't changing his cellphone use. Interestingly, the babies developed to be normal sized and did not show any other developmental defects. In the short term, however, a new study on rats suggests we should be okay.

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Some health and environmental groups immediately seized on the findings as more evidence of the dangers of cellphones.

Male rats exposed to very high levels of the kind of radiation emitted by cellphones developed tumours in the tissues around their hearts, according to a draft report by USA government researchers on the potential health risks of the devices. He believes that more of the associations between radiation exposure and rodent disease could have reached statistical significance had the study included a larger number of animals.

"Even with frequent daily use by the vast majority of adults, we have not seen an increase in events like brain tumors", he said.

"International and USA organizations and health experts have maintained their longstanding conclusion that the scientific evidence shows no known health risk due to the RF energy emitted by cellphones", said Justin Cole, a spokesman for the trade group. The new studies, when combined with previous research, have "given us the confidence that the current safety limits for cellphone radiation remain acceptable for protecting the public health".