Professor Sir William Stewart, chairman of the National Radiological Protection Board (NRPB), said that evidence of potentially harmful effects had become more persuasive over the past five years.
The news prompted calls for phones to carry health warnings and panic in parts of the industry. One British manufacturer immediately suspended a model aimed at four to eight-year-olds.
The number of mobiles in Britain has doubled to 50 million since the first government-sponsored report in 2000. The number of children aged between five and nine using mobiles has increased fivefold in the same period.
In his report, Mobile Phones and Health, Sir William said that four studies have caused concern. One ten-year study in Sweden suggests that heavy mobile users are more prone to non-malignant tumours in the ear and brain while a Dutch study had suggested changes in cognitive function. A German study has hinted at an increase in cancer around base stations, while a project supported by the EU had shown evidence of cell damage from fields typical of those of mobile phones.
“All of these studies have yet to be replicated and are of varying quality but we can’t dismiss them out of hand,” Sir William said. If there was a health risk — which remained unproven — it would have a greater effect on the young than on older people, he added.
I'm betting there won't turn out to be much if any effect, but I'm definitely interested. I expect there'll be a genuine review article in JAMA or NEJM soon.