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Devra Lee Davis, Director of Center for Environmental Oncology-UPCI believes the lack of definitive studies on long-term exposure to cell phones presents a problem for human health..


PITTSBURGH — It’s hard to imagine living without them.

A recent statistic puts cell phone ownership at 90 percent among Americans.

Yet, technology presents a double-edged sword.

The Food and Drug Administration cites three studies since 2000 that have shown no harmful effects from cell phone use.

In a recent appearance on CNN’s “Larry King Live,” Dr. Michael Thun, of the American Cancer Society, agreed.

“We know that the studies that have been done on brain cancer — and I’m gong to distinguish brain cancer from acoustic neuroma — have largely been reassuring,” Thun said.

Dr. James Wilberger, the chairman of Neurosurgery at Allegheny General Hospital, thinks the concern has been overblown.

“The true science has been done. It has not shown any connection so far, although the longest studies go out only 10 years,” Wilberger said.

Dr. Frank Lieberman, a neuro-oncologist at the Hillman Cancer Center, uses a speaker phone for short conversations when he can and an earpiece for longer periods.

“It has facilitated the practice of medicine,” Lieberman said. “It is a lot easier to be on call.”

Dr. Ron Herberman, director of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, does the same thing.

“It was really when I saw the recommendation from the French government to be very cautious in the use of cell phones, and the array of different experts that weighed in on this, that I took this very seriously,” Herberman said.

Dr. Devra Lee Davis, an environmental oncologist, believes the lack of definitive studies on long-term exposure presents a problem.

“The absence of evidence that cell phones cause brain cancer now should not be interpreted as proof that there is no problem,” Davis said. “What that means is we haven’t waited long enough to know the answer to the question.”