GEORGE TOWN: Handphones can be more damaging to health than smoking, the Consumers Association of Penang (CAP) said.
CAP president SM Mohamed Idris said research by award-winning neurosurgeon Professor Dr Vini Gautam Khurana from the United States had indicated that using mobile phones for more than 10 years could double the risk of brain cancer.
Prof Khurana, who has received 14 awards over the past 16 years and has published more than three dozen scientific papers, had conducted a 15-month "critical review" of the link between mobile phones and malignant brain tumours.
The subject in the study were heavy mobile phone users who had relied on handphones for at least 10 years. "Previous studies which found no evidence of a link between mobile use and an increased risk of cancer often did not include enough long-term mobile phone users in their study samples," Mohamed Idris said.
Prof Khurana found that cancer takes at least a decade to develop.
"The incidence of malignant brain tumours and associated death rate will be observed to rise globally within a decade from now, by which time it may be far too late to intervene medically," Prof Khurana said in his report.
Prof Khurana said smoking kills some five million people worldwide each year, but three billion people now use mobile phones worldwide and the number is growing daily.
Mohamed Idris said children who used mobile phones were at greater risk because they were more susceptible to the radiation than adults.
"Parents should not allow their children to use mobile phones and consumers should use the speakerphone function, so that the phone is held more than 20cm away from the head. Use landlines whenever possible," he said.
CAP also urged the Government to take appropriate measures to address the fact that mobile phones could represent a public health time bomb.
"Government should use the mass media and run campaigns to educate and warn the public of the dangers of radiation exposure from mobile phones," Mohamed Idris said.
Prof Khurana has posted the results of his findings on www.brain-surgery.us and his research paper is currently being peer-reviewed for publication in a scientific journal.