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Can Cell Phones Cause Another Kind of Ringing?
Date:7/20/2010

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, July 19 (HealthDay News) -- Regular cell phone use may increase the risk of developing persistent ringing in the ear -- a condition known as tinnitus, a small Austrian study suggests.

But one U.S. ear specialist called the data used for the study "very weak," adding that the study failed to prove a connection between cell phone use and tinnitus.

The study's lead researcher, Dr. Hans-Peter Hutter of the Institute of Environmental Health at the Medical University of Vienna, said "high intensity, long duration of mobile phone use might be associated with occurrence of tinnitus. Therefore, we are recommending a far more conscious and cautious way of using mobile phones."

The study authors cited studies showing that tinnitus affects 10 percent to 15 percent of people in the developed world, and they said that number is increasing. The condition can severely affect quality of life for many sufferers, and little can be done to reduce the troublesome ringing, hissing or roaring.

For the study, published online July 19 in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Hutter's team studied 100 people treated for chronic tinnitus and 100 without it. The participants were asked a variety of questions about their cell phone use.

Based on the participants' responses, the researchers estimated that people who used a cell phone before the first symptoms of tinnitus appeared were 37 percent more likely to develop the condition than those in the control group. Also, people who used their cell phone for at least 10 minutes a day were 71 percent more likely to develop tinnitus than the other study participants.

Most people in the study used their cell phones on both ears, but tinnitus typically affected one ear -- 38 percent of participants mentioned the left ear and about the same percentage said it distressed them most of the time. Twenty-nine percent
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