No evidence of health risks mobile phone technology - large-scale UK study

The UK’s largest programme of research into possible health risks from mobile phone technology has today published its final report, and finds no evidence of biological or adverse health effects.  The report summarises studies completed since an earlier report in 2007.

The research programme found no evidence that exposure to base station emissions during pregnancy affects the risk of developing cancer in early childhood, and no evidence that use of mobile phones leads to an increased risk of leukaemia.

Professor David Coggon, Chairman of MTHR, said “When the MTHR programme was first set up, there were many scientific uncertainties about possible health risks from mobile phones and related technology.  This independent programme is now complete, and despite exhaustive research, we have found no evidence of risks to health from the radio waves produced by mobile phones or their base stations. Thanks to the research conducted within the programme, we can now be much more confident about the safety of modern telecommunications systems. 

To be sure that there are no delayed adverse effects, which only become apparent after many years, the programme provided funding to set up an epidemiological investigation (the COSMOS study) which will follow-up a large population of mobile phone users long-term.  Future Government support for this study and any new research on mobile phones and health will be managed by the Department of Health.”

Recognising concerns among members of the public and workers in the emergency services, the MTHR programme included large and well-designed investigations into the possible effects of emissions from TETRA radios and base stations that are used by the emergency services. Reassuringly this research found no evidence for adverse effects associated with exposure. 

The programme also included research to investigate whether the modulation of radio signals that is used to encode speech and data for telecommunications could elicit specific effects in cells or tissues. No effects were found in any of the experiments, which used a wide range of tissue types and endpoints. When taken together with the results from provocation studies described in the previous MTHR report, this now constitutes a significant body of evidence that modulation of signals does not lead to health risks.

The £13.6 million MTHR programme has been jointly funded by the UK government and the telecommunications industry.  Throughout its existence, the programme has been overseen by an independent Programme Management Committee (PMC), to ensure that none of the funding bodies could influence the outcomes of the research.  The PMC selected and monitored all studies in the programme.

This report effectively brings the programme to a conclusion after 11 years of detailed research and, when taken together with the earlier 2007 Report, provides a complete summary of the projects supported. It also summarises work undertaken to improve the assessment of exposures, and includes detailed descriptions of the exposure systems used for the provocation studies in the programme. Most of the research results generated by the programme have been published in the peer-reviewed scientific and medical literature, resulting in around 60 papers.

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