250,000 volunteers, between the ages of 18 and 69, from the European nations of the Netherlands, Finland, UK, Sweden and Denmark have agreed to be part of a 30-year cell phone study that will look into health side effects of excessive cell phone usage.
The participants will allow researchers to track their cell phone use for the next 20 to 30 years and to access their health care records to determine if there are any correlations between their cell phone use and future health care issues.
According to the BBC, the study, The Cohort Study on Mobile Communications (COSMOS) will examine any potential links between different types of cancer, neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, headaches, depression, tinnitus and sleep disorders.
To date, any research that has been done on cell phone use and any potential health risks have only been done in the short term, according to Professor Paul Elliott of the School of Public Health located in London. In 2006, the Swedish National Institute for Working Life conducted a study which revealed a 240% increase in risk for cancerous tumors on the head if the person constantly uses their cell phone. In 2008, an issue of the American Journal of Epidemiology suggested a link between high cell phone usage and cancer developing in salivary glands.
In 2009, the World Health Organization conducted research that determined cell phone users were at a higher risk of developing cancer later in life, though in other studies the same World Health Organization, the American Cancer Society and the National Institutes of Health, had determined that there is no conclusive evidence that cell phone usage poses any type of health risk.
Researchers are hoping that because the study will be done in real time and will be conducted over a longer period of time, they will be able to collect more accurate data on certain diseases that tend to take longer than 10 years to develop.
Participants will also fill out regular surveys detailing the use of their phones, other wireless devices they may use, their diet and exercise habits and whether participants carry their phones in their pant or shirt pocket or if they use hands-free devices.
Though some studies in the short-term have shown potential cancer risks associated with cell phone use, according to Ramon Llamas, a senior research analyst with IDC Mobile Devices Technology, the sales of cell phones and their use has only increased. Researchers are hoping to put to be able to provide definitive answers once and for all. Preliminary data is not expected for five years.