If you found out that cellphones caused cancer, for sure, what would you do? Quit your cellphone? The fact of the matter is that we still don't know for sure, but a group of researchers in Europe aim to find out once and for all whether or not the essential devices cause serious harm or not.
The bad news: they won't know for another 20 or 30 years.
Why the wait? The researchers are operating under the assumption that current studies, which have concluded that there are no long-term ills caused by cellphone usage, have been too short to know for sure. With that in mind, 250,000 participants will be gathered from across five different European nations and studied for the next 20 to 30 years, which will provide a clearer view of the big picture. The study has been named Cosmos, for the cohort study on mobile communications.
"We still cannot rule out the possibility that mobile phone use causes cancer," Professor Lawrie Challis, one of the researchers in the study, told the BBC. "The balance of evidence suggests that it does not, but we need to be sure."
The study won't just be limited to brain tumors either, as one Doctor Mireille Toledano stressed, adding, "We will be looking at a range of different health outcomes, including other forms of cancers such as skin cancers and other brain disease such as neurodegenerative diseases."
Less side effects, such as headaches, depression or trouble sleeping, will also be under the microscope, as will other forms of communication including Wi-Fi devices and baby monitors. The Cosmos project is being spearheaded in Britain by the Mobile Telecommunications and Health Research program, and independent research firm.