Mobile phone health study will track hundreds of thousands of users for decades
An international study of the long-term health effects of mobile phone use will run for decades, according to its organisers.
The cohort study on mobile communications (COSMOS) aims to track the health of at least 250,000 participants aged 18 to 69, living in five European countries, for 20 to 30 years.
The UK arm of COSMOS is being led by a research team from Imperial College London.
Dr Mireille Toledano, one of the principal investigators on the study from the School of Public Health at Imperial College London, said: "It is important for us to carry out long-term health monitoring of a large group of mobile-phone users so that we can identify if there are any possible health effects from this new and widespread technology that has become so central to our everyday lives."
Professor Paul Elliott, principal investigator of the study from the School of Public Health at Imperial College London, said: "Scientists have been looking at the effects of mobile phones on health for several years and so far, reviews of the research have been reassuring with respect to mobile phone use and health problems in the short term. However, as mobile phones have only been in widespread use for a relatively short time, we haven't been able to carry out long-term studies until now.
"COSMOS aims to fill in important gaps in our knowledge of mobile phones and health. By looking at large numbers of people across Europe over a long period of time, we should be able to build up a valuable picture of whether or not there is any link between mobile phone use and health problems over the long term."
The COSMOS project team from Imperial College London is inviting 2.4 million UK mobile phone users to take part in the study, contacting them through four of the mobile-phone operators. Other partners in the study will invite users from Denmark, Sweden, Finland and the Netherlands to take part.
"Through contributing a small amount of time to this study, participants will make a big difference to our understanding of mobile phones and health. Anyone who wants to find out more and get in touch with us can visit our website at www.ukcosmos.org," said Dr Toledano.
Participants in the study will be asked to complete an on-line questionnaire about their mobile phone use, health and lifestyle. The researchers will monitor participants' mobile-phone use and any health problems they develop, such as cancers and neurological diseases, for at least the next 20 years. They will also analyse whether any changes in the frequency of symptoms, such as headaches and sleep disorders, are related to mobile-phone usage.
"Over the past decade, mobile phones have become a normal part of everyday life for the majority of people in Britain. The COSMOS study is the largest research study worldwide investigating mobile phone use and health and is a very important step towards finding out whether there are health implications of using a mobile phone over a long period of time," said Dr Toledano.
Professor Lawrie Challis from the programme management committee of the Uk's Mobile Telecommunications and Health Research programme, of which COSMOS is a part, said: "We still cannot rule out the possibility that mobile phone use causes cancer. The balance of present evidence does not suggest it does but we need to be sure. The best way of doing this is through a large cohort study such as COSMOS and I am very pleased that the UK is to play an important part in this international endeavour."
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